Add A Drive to Linux and Encrypt It

We’re going to be featuring encrypted removable backups on Category5 Technology TV, and here’s a quick list of the steps we’ll be using to prepare the hard drive.

Everything we’re about to do requires running terminal as root.

In Debian, become root as follows:

In Ubuntu (and other “sudo”-based environments):

Install cryptsetup:

Make the drive encrypted (destructive), 512-bit :

Show result:

Map the drive:

This will ask you for the passphrase and then creates a new mapper at /dev/mapper/backup

The reason I first go to /tmp is just in case there is a ./backup folder where I am currently situated within the filesystem. This could cause problems, so moving to /tmp removes the risk (unless there is a /tmp/backup, of course).

Create the filesystem (format):

You can now test mounting the drive if you like:

Create a key file so you can auto-mount the drive (without having to enter the keyphrase). Only root should have access to this file:

Add the keyfile to our LUKS drive:

Enter your passphrase when prompted.

Do another dump and you should now see Key Slot 1 has a key (from your key file):

Now we need to determine the UUID of your LUKS-encrypted partition. This will be different than the actual physical UUID, so we have to use cryptsetup to find it:

 

Setup a crypttab entry:

Add the following:

Create your permanent mountpoint wherever you’d like and make it so you can’t write to it unless it’s mounted. For my example I’ll place it in /home/robbie/backup

Open your fstab file for editing:

Add your encrypted partition to the permanent mountpoint by adding this line:

nofail means if the drive is not present, keep booting. noatime means access times are not updated when a file is read (read operations are read only: don’t use resources or reduce the life of the drive with write operations when not necessary). Our x-systemd.device-timeout setting means the mount will skip the drive if it is not plugged in after 5 seconds. The default is 90 so this speeds up boot big time.

Test to make sure everything worked:

Do not reboot until you get a good result. ūüėÄ

Side note: If the drive is a USB drive, make sure you disable usbcore autosuspend, which will periodically turn off your USB, thereby breaking your mountpoint. On Debian I did this by editing /etc/default/grup and adding usbcore.autosuspend=-1 to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT Рyou can confirm it worked by rebooting and then typing: cat /sys/module/usbcore/parameters/autosuspend РHere is some great info for other distros: http://unix.stackexchange.com/posts/175035/revisions

How I Got an Android Smartphone in Ontario Canada for Just $6.25 per Month

My method is not for the person who wants to be able to spend time on their cellphone, chatting it up, nor the person who wants to have blazing Internet speeds on their phone while they’re hiking through Algonquin Park. This is for those of us with very basic requirements, who need a phone out of necessity… for emergencies… and don’t want to spend a bunch of monthly cash to do it.

Let me tell you a little bit about me, and perhaps shed some light on why you may have received an answering machine or two when reaching out to me. I’m not one to spend much time on the phone. In fact, I do almost all my communication either in person or by email.

I’m not a brain surgeon, nor the President of the United States, so I’ve never felt “important enough” to need to be accessible 24/7 no matter where I am. So I’ve never gotten myself into a costly phone contract, because it simply wasn’t a necessary expense.

However, recently we had our new alarm installed at the studio thanks to Froggy.ca, and the alarm monitoring company needs to be able to get a hold of me in event of break-in or other emergency. Otherwise, they might send the Police to false alarms should they occur, resulting in a hefty fine from the local emergency service.

So I started doing research, and realized a few things about my needs.

  1. I am almost always within reach of a WiFi connection, and when I’m not, I don’t want to be. For example, I don’t need to have Internet while I’m at the beach or eating dinner at a restaurant with my darling wife.
  2. I never use the phone. I need it for emergency use only, and perhaps the rare short call, but nothing to warrant the 500 minutes a month of a standard phone contract.
  3. I want a phone out of necessity, not desire for constant contact, and therefore I do not want to have to spend the $35+ per month on a phone contract.
  4. I use an iPod Touch 4 to keep on top of my inbox. I know it’s on its last legs (they’re not built to last), plus I don’t want to have a phone¬†and iPod in my pocket–so a smartphone makes more sense to me than a flip phone. I want to remove the iPod from the mix entirely and just have a single device for both purposes.

With some back-and-forth between the Category5 TV chat room, and discussing with a few friends, I came up with a brilliant solution, and I must say it’s working great!

I now have a smartphone–a Samsung S730m Discovery Galaxy–with no contract, and I pay just $6.25 per month for it.

Here’s how I did it:

First of all, I bought the phone. That’s right. I paid outright for a¬†refurbished unlocked smartphone. I’ve never done this before, but the freedom is wonderful! I got to choose my phone from dozens of available options, and got a great deal (I paid $90 Canadian) since it’s a refurb, and not the most current of phones. Check out the¬†amazing selection on Amazon! One of them is bound to work for you.

By purchasing the phone outright, I am not tied to a contract. It’s how the phone companies get you: they promise a free smartphone, or one for very cheap, but you have to sign up for $35 per month for 2 years (Wind Mobile). So I’ve avoided the contract, and the high monthly fee (but had to pay nearly $100 up front for the device–a fair trade-off).

The other advantage to buying the phone is that for less money in the long run, I actually end up with a better¬†device. The ones being offered at the $35 / month contract level don’t hold a candle to the one I bought for just $90. You can get an unlocked phone for as little as $40 from what I saw, but again, I wanted to replace my iPod Touch at the same time.

Secondly, we know I have easy access to WiFi. What about you? I think it’s pretty rare to be out of reach of a WiFi connection where you truly need it, at least for me. I have it at work, I have it at home, and my favorite coffee shops also give me free access. I do not need Internet while sitting on a park bench watching my kids play. I’d prefer to cheer them on and show some interest in what they’re doing.

So scrub the need to have cellular Internet on my phone. I set the phone to disable using Internet on cellular networks, and I can still have high-speed Internet on my smartphone whenever I am within reach of a WiFi connection… which is practically always.

Third, I shopped around. You’ll never guess where I found my service.

Wait for it…

After weighing about 15 different providers against one another, I walked into my local Petro Canada gas bar and picked up a SIM card and pay-as-you-go minutes. Whaaaaat?

Yeah, you heard me right.

Why did I choose Petro Canada? For starters, it’s easy to activate my phone. I bought the SIM card for $10, which gave me the local phone number and activated my new phone. All I had to do was enter some numbers into a web site as per the instructions, and I was up and running.

Not to mention, you get Petro Points for your phone service. That will mean free gas, free groceries, whatever I choose to redeem them for.

So here’s how I got my phone service for $6.25 per month…

I actually purchased a single $25 pay-as-you-go card. That’s it. Having read all the fine print, Petro Canada’s $25 card expires in 4 months. That’s 4 months of phone service, with no Internet (I’m getting that via WiFi) for just $25, assuming I don’t make an abundance of calls using up the card prematurely (which I won’t do unless there’s an emergency, in which case I won’t mind reloading early). $25 every¬†4 months is $6.25 per month.

It doesn’t give me a lot of talk time. Roughly 50-100 minutes per month, but that’s actually more than I need.

So for those who are like me and only need cellular service in an emergency or in a bind, I wanted to post how I did it and share with you that you too can get phone service in Canada for just $6.25 per month.

Already have a cellphone?¬†Cancel your phone plan and do what I did if you are paying more than you need to! Even $35 per month to have a “phone for emergencies” is too much now that we know it can be done for so much less.

Please comment below and let me know what you think of my solution, and certainly if you opt for the same, I’d love to know about it.

Here’s a video where Sasha Dirmeitis and I discuss how I did it:

Studio D: Day 17

Wow! We’re really getting into the exciting stuff now.

Christa and her hubby Brad arrived to start putting up the drywall, and my friend Jean Bamford from Labar Sales & Distribution also paid us a visit to figure out the colors for our new studio. I’m glad she came by on a night when Christa was around since it was her who designed our logo and she has a good vision for our image. This is getting exciting!

We also got our first piece of furniture donated by my friend Chelsea: a coffee table!

You’ve got to see the video! So much going on.

Please don’t forget, we need to buy a new video camera for Studio D, and we do not yet have the funds. We need our viewers’ help, and every contribution makes a huge difference. Please consider contributing to this need here:¬† http://shop.category5.tv/?product=upgrade-the-cameras

You can also read about the camera and post your comments on my blog: http://www.baldnerd.com/new-camera-for-studio-d/

Thanks for all your support!

-Robbie

Studio D: Day 10

Behold, the most epic of all days, day 10 ¬†ūüėČ

Seriously! Imagine a 10 hour work day where you had the video camera running the whole time thinking “Oh, that’ll be a great idea: means I’ll have a recording to work with”. ¬†And then, sit down in the editing room and gasp and wonder what on earth you were thinking!

So, here it is! Edited down to a 1 hour mega super day special!

On this incredible, productive day, I bought a cute little fridge to keep cream and drinks cold for the studio crew, and also welcomed a viewer–Paulo–into Studio D. He is a combination electrician, contractor and all-round good guy who volunteered to help with a lot of the stuff I’m just not capable of doing… or at least until I’m shown how. He proved to be a great teacher and fun guy to work with … and it’s a good thing too, because it was a LONG day!

Enjoy the special! Make sure you set aside some extra time this week and let’s get these lights up!

-Robbie

Studio D: The Learning Experience

Studio D is an exciting adventure for me and Category5 Technology TV.

One of the coolest things about this project is how much I’m¬†learning. From all the valuable information provided by Andy Christie during our inspection, and the subsequent ripping out of the drywall, to the leak repair and caulking, as well as lighting knowledge provided by Robert. And then to boot, Paulo comes along offering his time as well, and all of a sudden I’m learning how to do electrical work! I’m learning¬†so much, and these skills transcend the Studio D project and will no doubt make me a better home owner as well. Plus, I feel it’s good to learn new things… and be able to then use those skills to help other people when they have need.

It’s been a joy sharing my experiences with you so far as we work toward the completion of studio D. If you haven’t followed along yet, check out the video playlist at the top of this page. It’s raw, largely uncut, and full of great information. But it’s also a lot of fun!

Thank you for your support through this project thus far. If you’d like to contribute, please head over to cat5.tv/studio to find out what ways you can support us.

Thanks!

-Robbie

Studio D: Is This Real Life?

When Bekah and I went shopping to buy our first house, we had a dream: to move Category5 Technology TV into its own space.

That dream took longer than we’d anticipated to come to fruition, but it finally has! Studio D is real! I saw it with my own eye bulbs, and even have the key in my pocket right now!

I met with the landlord at 9:30am today to hand off our insurance papers and receive the key. A wonderful handful of people showed up to help clean the place top to bottom, and we finished cleaning in only 3 hours!

There is some water damage from a leak which we thought was a previous leak, but thanks to a good hard rainfall today, we got to see the water coming in. So at least we know right away what we’re up against. We need to rip out a fair bit of drywall and assess the damage, and repair and paint the whole place. It’s going to be a huge job, but¬†so worth it. Thank you to the volunteers who endeavour to make it possible!

I said to Bekah, the strange thing about Studio D is, the more real it becomes, the more surreal it becomes. I can’t believe it’s finally happening!

The owner of a local wireless ISP came by to assess provision of Internet services, and he noted from the roof that indeed their tower is line of sight, and we should have no trouble receiving a good strong Internet signal.

Step one is complete… the place is ours, and clean. Now to do the repairs and paint. At that time we’ll be ready to start moving our gear.

Thanks all!

Robbie

Win a set of Beltone First hearing aids

Category5 Technology TV and Beltone Canada are giving away a pair of Beltone First hearing aids (left & right ear), and including a fitting at an authorized Beltone Centre in Canada–a prize valued at $7,000.

Beltone First is a sophisticated, Bluetooth connected hearing aid that uses an iPhone / iPad app to control your hearing aids, and even take calls directly on your hearing aids.

To win:

  1. Register for a free account at www.Category5.TV
  2. Email contest@category5.tv with the subject “Help me hear“. In the body of the email, include:
    • Your username as per step 1.
    • A short description of your hearing difficulty (or that of a loved one, if qualifying on their behalf).
    • Your mailing address (for shipping, in event that you win).
  3. Tune in to Category5 Technology TV on July 29 to win!

 

Being a jerk never got you anything but burnt grass…

Aside

I found this funny. We had a new neighbour move in next door. Our front yard is shared, but small. With our previous neighbour, it was never a big deal… if I was mowing the grass, I’d mow the whole yard. If they were mowing the grass, they’d mow the whole yard.

But our new neighbour is petty.

It was a bright, hot, scorching day on Saturday. The kind of day where you know not to do anything outside beyond drink a mojito or chomp down on a freezie pop. That was the day the neighbour got out their lawn mower.

They mowed their half of the yard, with a perfectly straight mow line down the middle of our tiny lot. My wife and I rolled our eyes and thought, that’s so petty. Just one week earlier I handed him one of my beers which he downed while watching me mow¬†both sides of the lawn. But here we are, 7 days later, and he wouldn’t have it: this is my lawn, that’s his lawn… split down the middle.

So, things cooled off the next day, and I went out and mowed “my side” of the yard.

It rained the next day, and my side of the lawn looks lovely and green. Remember how hot it was the day he mowed the lawn though? ¬†The “neighbour’s side” of the yard is entirely sun scorched! It’s brown and yellow and dead.

Part of me is glad my neighbour is petty. My side of the lawn looks great.

-Robbie

We want YOU in our next music video.

Category5 TV is shooting its latest music video, and we want you to be in it!

All you have to do is shoot video of you dancing through the entire song, “Happy” from Pharrell Williams. NO, you do not have to be a good dancer for this! That’s part of the fun!

Then, upload your video (we prefer HD if possible) to your favorite cloud storage service (PogoPlug, DropBox, etc) and email a link to live@category5.tv – we will contact you at that point with more details.

Here’s the music and style you’ll want to follow:

Looking forward to your submission!

Submission deadline is Tuesday April 29, 2014 Extended to Tuesday May 6, 2014.

– Robbie

Get a Roku for the best HD media experience on your TV without all the clutter!

The Roku is a great way to catch all your favorite web-based programming, including Category5 Technology TV, Netflix, and so much more!

Buy your device from here to support Category5 Technology TV:

Model Description Buy Now
Roku Streaming Stick¬† 

The Roku Streaming Stick brings you a solution that is entirely hidden away, plugged directly into your TV’s HDMI port. It will only work with HDTV’s for this reason, and is well suited for situations where the TV is mounted on a wall, where you don’t want to see any wires. The Roku Streaming Stick supports the same great channel lineup as the other models. This model is only recommended if you need that discreetness. The other units are more powerful. Buy
Roku 1¬† 

The Roku 1 is the entry level unit, giving you full access to all the channels available in the Roku Channel Store. It will work with old-style televisions (composite‚ÄĒnot¬†component) as well as your HDTV over HDMI. It has the standard Roku remote which does not include a headphone jack. Buy
Roku 2¬† 

The Roku 2 is very similar to the Roku 1, but it has dual-band WiFi (better/faster WiFi) and a high-quality headphone jack built into the wireless remote. You can listen to your shows or music with the privacy‚ÄĒand quality‚ÄĒof a set of headphones. Works with the included earbuds, or your favorite set of headphones with a 1/8″ plug (standard). The Roku 2 will also work on old TVs as well as HDTVs, as it offers both HDMI and composite outputs. Buy
Roku 3¬† 

The Roku 3 is the fastest, most feature rich version of the Roku. It will only work on HDTVs (720p or 1080p). Like the Roku 2, this model has dual-band WiFi, a headphone jack in the remote, but also adds gaming functionality, an ethernet port (hard wire your Internet connection rather than using WiFi). There is also a USB port and MicroSD port, allowing you to load your own videos or pictures onto flash media and load them on your TV. This Roku is the all-round HD entertainment device: television shows, movies, games, and even home movies. Because it is so much faster than the other models, the Roku 3 also has a more robust featureset for channels such as Netflix. While Netflix will work on all the devices, the Roku 3 is the only one which supports the “new Netflix”, with more advanced features such as viewer profiles. My Roku 2 for example, loads the default profile for Netflix and works great, but has no option to switch to the kids’ profile. The Roku 3 has that capability. Roku 3 will not work on old TVs as it only features an HDMI output. Buy