Debian Jessie: not so oldstable… 07Nov18 | 0

Dokuwiki media uploads failing?

Edit your /usr/share/dokuwiki/inc/Input.class.php with the following pasted under the __construct function (note WordPress “code” stripped the leading spaces :/):



* Return a filtered copy of the input object
* Expects a callable that accepts one string parameter and  returns a filtered string
* @param Callable|string $filter
* @return Input
public function filter($filter='stripctl'){
$this->filter = $filter;
$clone = clone $this;
$this->filter = '';
return $clone;




diy kefir 29Jun18 | 0

Kefir is a complex fermented product very similar to drinkable yogurt.  Unlike yogurt, the fermentation process is incredibly vigorous and strong enough to not need sterilization, works best at room temperature, and doesn’t require much care at all: you can pretty much drop “kefir grains” into a glass of milk, cover it with a sheet of paper, and have kefir after a day or two…it’s truly that simple.

It results in tangy liquid drink and is probably the most potent probiotic you can add to your diet.  I use substantial amounts in my daily breakfast smoothie.

What is kefir, besides something that’s nearly identical to drinkable yogurt?  It’s a diverse group of of bacteria, fungus, and yeast species that over time form a biofilm colony we call “kefir grains”.  With varying conditions, different organisms may “come out ahead” slightly but in general at room temperature and with milk as the food source, the end product of their cohabitation is the fermented food we call kefir.   If you’re the type who likes to read, this is probably the single best reference available on the internet for learning about “what is kefir”: (mirror: fmicb-06-01177)

While folks use a lot of different things to make kefir from (such as A2 milk), I use organic whole milk myself:  I find it created a very rich and satisfying kefir.

When starting up production with a freshly acquired set of grains, it’s customary to get the grains back up to speed by discarding the first few batches.  This allows the ecosystem to stabilize and acclimate to your local environment.

Grain to milk ratio of 1:4 usually works well around room temperatures and a 2 day fermentation cycle, but every situation (and desired outcome) is different.

Longer fermentation makes a more tangy kefir, and less time seems to make a cheese flavor more pronounced.  Experiment and find what works best for you: taste the spoon after each stirring to get used to the flavors that develop, and how long that flavor takes.

Usually stir it three times: briefly when the fresh material is added, briefly after 24 hours, and briefly right before straining the grains out for the next batch.

As things ferment, solids and water will begin to separate.  I find it’s a good reminder to stir when I see this:

If you don’t stir it at all for a few days and don’t keep it in the fridge, it can get an orange-ish discoloration on top which seems to be some relatively harmless organism (likely an airborne bacteria.) You can feel free to skim it off the top and then stir things back up again…I may occasionally simply stir this directly in and try not to think about it too much…

To separate the grains from the kefir, first stir briefly, then place a fine strainer in the plastic container, then a coarse strainer in the fine strainer, and finally pour the fermentation vessel contents in.

Use a spoon to move things around and start gently separating things.

Finally scoop the grains into a new clean glass jar.

In the fine strainer, you’ll often have things that don’t go through into the finished product.   You can eat it directly, add it to the finished kefir, or add it back into the fermentation vessel.  I’m not sure if they’re free-floating proto-colonies, an independent bacteria but they taste like fresh yummy cheese.

Makes sure your fermentation vessel doesn’t seal tight (I removed a plastic seal from mine.)  If you use a ball jar, replacing the metal lid with a paper towel works nicely.

Put a lid on the container and stick it in the fridge.  Regarding storage, it’s usually safe to keep strained kefir in the fridge for up to a month…I keep mine in covered containers and that seems to seal things in nicely.  I’ve read some folks end up getting mold on the top, so if that happens throw out that specific batch (never seen it myself.)  

It will separate a little if it sits untouched for a while, just stir to blend it again.

It’s nearly impossible to screw up. Just keep things reasonably clean while you’re working, no cross contamination, and that’s 99% of it.

Eventually, you’ll have too many grains:  they’ll take up a lot of space in your fermentation vessel, and they’ll start making kefir faster than you can drink it!  While you can compost or flush the excess grains, I’d recommend you try to find a health-conscious friend who’s interested in adding some fresh homemade fermented foods to their diet!

Light additional reading:


DIY Hot Sauce 10Jul16 | 0

Homemade Hot Sauce (Similar to Cholula)

Using that as a base, I ran my own taste tests over time and found the following variation to produce something that I really, really like on eggs.  As the original author noted, it tastes better as the flavors blend and mellow so having patience and foresight to have a jar soaking in the cupboard before you need it is highly recommended.


  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup filtered water
  • ~2 Tbps of Dried Pequin whole peppers
  • 4 Dried Arbol whole peppers
  • ~2+ tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder or Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Salt

Notes: The Arbol provide the core spicy taste that makes you say “Cholula!”.  The Pequin are relatively hot, and can be substituted for other peppers such as Guajillo (milder), or pretty much anything…experiment!  Pinches of other peppers (even ground black pepper) are nice for mixing the flavor up.  A teaspoon of cayenne helps if you like some heat and don’t have Pequin handy.

Process: dump everything in the blender, whip for a minute, jar for a week minimum.  Strain pepper flakes if desired (helps guard against unexpected bursts of heat).  Pour into recycled hot sauce container (one with a sturdy removable plastic lid and a relatively large opening).


Commuting on a bicycle 20May16 | 1

A rough collection of thoughts on clothing and gear based upon twelve months of commuting through four seasons in Pennsylvania…



The machine.  It’s ergonomics and upkeep are the most central and crucial aspect of your entire bicycling endeavor.

‘Flat-free’ Tires.  Some folks are fancy, and they live fancy carefree lives.  I am not those people.   I sure as hell am not going to get a flat on my way to work, because screwing around with pumps and tubes on the road is not an option.   Essential gear.

Fenders.  These keep water off of you when you ride in the rain.  And it’s going to rain.  Essential gear.

Lights.   A nice generic flashlight mount lets you keep a few (you don’t want a dead light when riding at night) LED flashlights on hand for quick swap out for front illumination.  A blinking LED taillight keeps folks from rear-ending you.  To keep from destroying your budget on alkalines, get a small set of Enerloop (or other LSD / low self discharge NiMH) batteries and a good charger.   Essential gear.

Rack.  This gets a backpack off your back, because it lets you hang bags off of it!   Backpacks feel like sweaters when it’s hot out.   At least one rear rack, and one simple rack bag are highly recommended.

Seat. Unless you’re very fortunate, the seat on your bike probably isn’t comfortable for long rides.  There are a wide range of leather saddles that will be comfortable after a few days of break-in, but the length and width are important.  I’ve seen rubber seats that replace the leather with a tough neoprene layer…they don’t need covered in the rain, and are in general highly regarded!  The seat is the last thing to worry about, because the rest of the ergonomics must be in place to find out how comfy the seat actually is: position up and down, front and back all need to be correct before you’ll have your ‘actual’ weight on the seat.  Only then (after a dozens of miles of time in the saddle, and many adjustments to find what fits your body) will your sit bones be where they want to be…and a saddle is going to need to appropriately cradle those sit bones!  Optional, but recommended gear.

Aerobars.  You’re going to want to change positions to shift your weight around at some point.  Or get your upper body down out of the wind (headwinds are demoralizing).  Clamp on aerobars are a hell of a lot cheaper than a new bike, and easier to install than swapping out a conventional handlebar to a dropbar…but they’re pretty dangerous until you’re used to getting into and out of them unless you were a punk as a kid and are used to riding without your hands on the bars.  Optional gear.


So, what do you wear for clothing and layers in the winter when riding a bicycle to and from work?  No cotton.  Well, maybe cotton shorts or jeans, but only if you’re not going to sweat in them too much.  Cotton is for dry conditions, and for keeping you warm.   It retains moisture and heat like mad.  If you’re going to need cotton for wherever you’re going, pack it with you or keep a set at your destination.

Comfort is all about layers and effort.  Thin polyester up against your skin (base layer), with additional layers on top as necessary.  Windbreakers.  Insulation.  If you’re too hot and can’t take anything else off, ease up on the effort.  If you’re too cold and can’t put anything else on, PUSH IT.


Generally, clothing layers can be broken down roughly like so:

  • Base layer – micro poly tee or long sleeve, no cotton
  • Thin insulate – Patagonia R1 or R3, or any long sleeve thin poly
  • Wind breaker – Patagonia Houdini, or any thin nylon shell
  • Thick insulate – Vest / parka / long sleeve thick poly, a layer of cotton doesn’t hurt
  • Waterproof top – rain coat or thick nylon shell top


Generally, temperature ranges can be broken down as such:

  • 15’F and under – everything isn’t enough to keep you warm, especially hands and face.  Sock liners, glove liners, every layer you’ve got and then some…
  • 25’F – heavy layering, especially hands and head
  • 35’F – basic layering, a hat really helps
  • 45’F / no sun – gloves, 2x base poly tee, 1x cotton tee, poly leggings, jeans, windbreaker = barely ok once you’ve got some wind in your face for a half hour…
  • 55’F / no sun – 2x base poly tee, jeans = barely ok
  • 65’F – 1x poly tee, shorts = usually OK



If it hurts now, it’s probably only going to get worse.  Adjust seat, position, feet for least pain and most power.  Butt off seat when you need to push:  tighten lower abs, lean forward, cantilever torso, keep your force pushing down on the pedals and keep it off the ligaments of your knee as much as possible.


Start slow.  Slow down to speed up.  Build strength, endurance, and THEN push.  Be mindful not to spend your reserves at the bottom of a hill, unless you’re looking to beat your muscles up.  You’re going to be biking every day, some days you need to go relatively easy on yourself.   If you get a heart rate monitor, aim to always have your heart above 130BPM.


Again, if it hurts now, it’s probably only going to get worse.  Deal with sources of pain.  Muscle pain will pass.  Ass pain may or may not pass.  Knee pain isn’t likely to pass: fix your form and ergonomics.  Numbness in hands isn’t likely to pass: add positions you can move to on your bike, increase core strength to cantilever better, adjust ergonomics of the bike, add gloves or ergo grips, etc.


It’s going to rain.  It’s going to snow.  Very, very occasionally…it’s going to be impassable.  You’ll need a backup plan, but you also will be commuting in weather most folks wouldn’t think of biking in, on days when impassible ‘actually isn’t’.  Gaiters and rain pants are great for dealing with driving rain and snow kicking up.  A pair of waterproof shoes are in order, or at least a backup set at your destination.  Keeping ‘everything you might need’ in the bag on your bike in case that beautiful spring day turns into blowing wind and snow showers in the afternoon…the weather can be the most delightful, delicate part of the day or the most miserable…


Adding an Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX rack to a Trek 7.2 FX… 28Apr15 | 1

…everything’s on the internet right?  Well, how come I couldn’t find instructions on how to match up these two bits of kit?  After struggling for an hour, I realized that I could potentially save someone a lot of time…

Here’s my mini-howto on getting some panniers into your life!

To start, this is specifically for the Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX mated to a Trek 7.2 FX.  If you’re looking for more general information, this is a great overview.  Why the “disc” version on a bike without disc brakes?  Room to breath, of course.

My Trek is the first “real” bike I’ve ever owned, and certainly the first I’ve done anything to other than irregularly lubricating the chain.  Also, my Trek is a couple years old (2012 I think?) so Your Mileage May Vary if it’s much older or much newer.  I hear the 2015 is a slight downgrade in build quality…anyway, enough rambling…

First: the Axiom came with entirely too much mounting hardware.  I suppose out of necessity, both the hardware kit and the hilariously vague instructions (I had to download them off the internet) are generic.  Don’t bother downloading them, they’ll just make the job take three times as long as you screw around with the center bracket before eventually being forced to abandon it: for the Trek, I didn’t need the middle bracket (or perhaps I do, but it’s a good 4″ too short to reach anything useful).  I’m sure it’s necessary to reach the rated ~100 pound capacity.

Next, I had to pop some rubber bungs out of the threaded fittings welded onto the frame below the seat (in the bicycling world, these are called “internally threaded eyelets on the seat stays” I believe.  Feedback appreciated.)  This is the location on the Trek:

seat stay threaded eyelets

The smooth silver bolt head in the middle bottom of the image (I think it’s called a rear brake frame mount) is where the center bracket would fit if it had been appreciably longer :/

Next, loosen the four hex head bolts that hold the “Versalock arms”. They’re the bits that are hooked to the frame in the above picture.  Don’t loosen the bolts too far, just enough so you can easily slide the arms in and out, and rotate them a bit.

Time to start mounting!  Lightly place the rack into approximate place.  There are more threaded nipples down near the rear axle.  If you want maximum load capacity, you probably want to use the axle (I think the technical term is “quick release skewer”) itself as the mount point (as well as fabricating a longer middle bracket and fiddling with Versalock arms so they don’t block the middle bracket).  Easy enough to move at any time with a couple hex keys.  If you’re like me and just wanted to get the rack mounted before needing to ride home in the dark, line the bottom of the rack up with the rearmost eyelets:

Rear rack bottom mount point

You can see I experimented with various mount locations ;)  I used the longer bolts, as the backside of the eyelet has plenty of clearance.  Also, I am very underwhelmed by how secure the bolt is in the eyelet.  Some thread-lock or a locknut on the backside is definitely in order!  A locknut may be challenging, as the backside of the eyelet is angled for what I’m sure is some really great reason.  Don’t bother going nuts on tightening the bolt, just have it holding the bracket in place until all of the mount points are in place and the rack is level.

With the bracket lightly in place, align the Versalock arms so they reach the seat stay eyelets.  If you get things loose enough, you can do just about anything you want with the arms (I managed to get them backwards at one point, so two of the bolts were facing each other under the rack…I’m special like that).  I found that the arms interfered with the rear brakes if they weren’t in this specific configuration shown in my images.  You may be able to “adjust” things differently with a little elbow grease.  Also, I saved the shortest of the included bolts for this, as I figured the longer bolts may have bottomed out before tightening down.

Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX mounted on a Trek FX 7.2

Now that everything is roughly in place and you’re pretty sure the rack is level, tighten down the bottom bolts near the axle, then tighten down the bolts on the seat stays.  Again, this is aluminum:  don’t go nuts with the torque, I erred on the side of caution knowing I have thread-lock that is going to be slathered in here once I’m positive of the exact alignment.  Finally, make sure the Versalock arms look tidy under the rack, and slowly tighten down the four bolts holding them in place.  It’ll slowly pull itself into place, and right before it gets firm is your last chance to make minor adjustments to the angle of the rack.  For these Versalaock arm bolts, I did give a little bit of torque, as I figure if this rack has a lifetime warranty these bits must be sturdy.

Three of these bolts are visible here.  The shiny holes are from my misguided (thanks, instructions!) attempt at using the middle bracket:

Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX Versalock arm bolts

If you made it this far, you now have a rack on your bike in a fraction of the time it took me.  Enjoy!

Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX mounted on a Trek FX 7.2
Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX rack on a Trek FX 7.2

Reminder: for maximum load carrying capacity, you’ll want the bottom bracket on the axle, and probably want to figure out some way to rig a new middle top bracket.  The manufacturer claims it’ll carry 50kg (110 pounds!), and I don’t see that happening on those little eyelets over bumps for thousands of miles without something unfortunate happening to the welds…also, acquire high strenght threadlock / red loctite (and a bunch of spare bolts).

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