Organic Design (blog)

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Building started

Posted by Nad on 16 de fevereiro de 2016 at 15h53min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
The concrete has only been drying for four days, but we figured as long as were careful it should be ok! So we cut three 2.7m pieces of 5x12.5 (eucalyptus comes in 5.4m lengths instead of the usual 2.7m) and drilled the holes to bolt them on. Even though I made a guide (I drilled a hole through a thick piece of wood with the drill press) to try and ensure the holes were vertical, it wasn't very accurate because the wood isn't cut very well - not only is it really bent, but it's not very square either! We had to stop early though because it started raining during our picnic break! - the house was already able to shelter us from the rain though by putting a few roofing panels over one end of the foundation :-)

We took the generator with us to the work area in a wheelbarrow so we can use power tools for cutting and drilling, but it's only powerful enough to run a jig-saw not a circular saw (although we have to test that as a lot of people think that it should run one no problem). Unfortunately the jig-saw isn't strong enough to cut the thick pieces of eucalyptus, so we have to use the slightly less accurate chain-saw for those cuts!


Foundation poles complete

Posted by Nad on 12 de fevereiro de 2016 at 17h57min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We completed the foundations poles today, our third day back at the land. We wanted to get these done really early since we have to leave them for a week so the concrete is hard enough before we start putting heavy wood on top of them and hammering it. We made six foundations poles using PVC pipe filled with concrete as shown in the first image below.

Unfortunately the south-east (closest to Vladimirs place) and the north-west poles have no reinforcing - because we completely forgot about it! And the middle pipe on the south side goes all the way to the bottom of the hole, but apart from those problems all went well. We used 75Kg of cement, 150kg of sand and an extra 50kg of large stones. The cement is pretty bad quality as it's a couple of years old, and the sand too is from the river containing a fair bit of mud, so this concrete wouldn't be suitable for structure, but hopefully it'll be fine for foundations where the force is almost all downwards and it's contained within the PVC pipe to prevent it from bending if any cracks were to form in it.

Here's a picture of the completed foundation pipes and one of Beth clearing a path through the overgrown bracken from the newly delivered materials to the work area. If you click on the picture to get a bigger view you can just make out the wood and the new power pole in the distance at the end of the cleared path.


Wood arrived for our second house

Posted by Nad on 11 de fevereiro de 2016 at 17h40min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We took the hire car back to Canela today and then paid for all the materials for the new house which came to R$3,500 (about NZ$1,300), most of the wood is eucalyptus this time rather than pine as it's stronger and more resistant to bugs. Delivery was only about R$150 which is a really awesome price, normally it's 2-3 times more than that, but since this wood place has it's own trucks they can do a better deal. We got a ride back to the land in the truck with them.

Starting our second house

Posted by Nad on 10 de fevereiro de 2016 at 20h07min
This post has the following tags: Our forth year on the land
We made a start on the foundations for the new house today. The wood hasn't arrived yet, but we had some cold concrete and large PVC pipes lying round which we could use to get started on the foundations. We decided to use concrete and PVC instead of logs for the foundations this time to make it more bug resistant.

We only got two of the six done though as there was a lot of weed-eating to do to clear the area and clear a path to it for the truck, and we had to make a gate in the fence to let the truck through - but not the cows!


Starting our forth year on the land

Posted by Nad on 9 de fevereiro de 2016 at 09h20min
Our third year on the land
Wow that year sped past in a flash! We've just got back from Brasília where we stayed with Beth's parents for a couple of months for Christmas and New Years. It's always good to catch up with the family and spend time with them, but we have to remember in future not to be away from our land for too long because we start really missing the peace and tranquillity of have natural forest all around us. We have another three months away soon too because we're visiting New Zealand, but after we get back we plan on spending some really solid time here!

One interesting thing that we did in Brasília was to do some bike Mechanic lessons with Beth's friend Danielson. This was mainly for Beth because she felt very unconfident about fixing anything mechanically on the bikes, but it's made me more confident too because there were some things I didn't really understand too such as the gear adjustment mechanism. He took us through assembling a bike completely from scratch and now Beth feels really confident to fix anything on our bikes :-)


Remember the Habanero source that was too hot to handle? Well shortly after it was made I put two olives in the bottle, one for me and one for Beth's dad, the challenge was that on the last day of out visit, we would both eat one of the olives! Well I ate mine, but Beth's dad cheated and spat his out!!! It was pretty hot, but luckily we had ensured that we had some ice cold beer in the freezer to cool off with :-)


We caught a plane back to Porto Alegre a couple of days ago, stayed in a hotel there then got a bus to Canela where we hired a car which we'll use for a few days while we get supplies and arrange building materials. We have to build a house over the next few weeks since they won't connect the power to our new pole unless there's a house within 40m of it (and they didn't want to put our pole close to our current house because they thought the truck would get stuck in the mud).

When we arrived, every thing was really overgrown as usual, but amongst all the tangle of weeds we found heaps of ripe tomatoes and some grapes are ready too :-) The mulberry trees that had died from the intense surprise frost last year have regrown to the size they were before, and the banana tree is looking really good too - the tiny one that cropped up next to it is pretty big now as well!


The strangest thing we saw when we arrived though was that a pumpkin vine had travelled all the way out of the vege patch straight to our door as if it specifically wanted to visit us in our house! Perhaps this is the way that home delivery works in the wild :-)


Too hot to handle!

Posted by Nad on 27 de dezembro de 2015 at 16h39min
This post has the following tags: Our third year on the land
We're staying at Beth's parents place in Brasília at the moment, and soon after we arrived, Beth's Dad introduced me to his new Red Savina Habanero plant! This kind of chilli pepper is extremely hot and held the world record for the hottest chilli from 1994 to 2006 when it was beaten by the Bhut jolokia, and the current record holder since 2013 is the Carolina Reaper which is a hybrid of the other two. These peppers are literally hundreds of times hotter than Tobasco source! So I thought it would be a good idea to cut a whole lot of them up and preserve them in sunflower oil to make a really hot source!

I've had better ideas :-(

In the process of cutting them into small pieces a lot of the juice went onto my fingers - I didn't think that was a problem because I washed my hands immediately afterwards with plenty of soap. But the juice is so strong that not only did the washing process fail to remove enough to stop it burning, but it also just spread it all over my hands and wrists making my whole hands burn the same way your mouth burns after eating a normal chili! Not only that, but washing the juice into the sink produced choking fumes making me cough uncontrollably! I tried to get it off by having a shower which only proceeded to spread the burning sensation all over my body and into my eyes!!!

I had to pour water directly into my eyes and pat them dry with a towel, and then just accept the burning everywhere else since whatever I did just made things worse :-(

It's about four hours after the incident now and the burning has finally started subsiding! I'm not sure whether I want to take my new hot source home with me now...?


Off-grid shmoff-grid :-/

Posted by Nad on 7 de dezembro de 2015 at 12h09min
This post has the following tags: Our third year on the land
After a very dark winter with literally weeks of solid rain and even longer periods with no sun, we've finally decided that it's time for our solar power experiment to give way to the grid! We're still going to continue with our power project, but we'll change our focus to micro-hydro since we have a usable river current nearly all the time, and we'll look in to more exotic forms of power as well such as hydrolysis and Tesla antennas :-)

The first step to getting connected to the grid out here is to get a power pole put in with a meter on it. Then we can call another company who can connect out pole to the closest existing poles. It took a while to find someone reliable for the first job of putting the pole in, and then he had to cancel due to rain so we thought we'd miss out this year since we're leaving for Brasília in a few days, and then for NZ after that. But the weather has been good for the last few days and he spontaneously appeared today. He didn't like the look of the place though as he reckoned his truck was too heavy and the ground was still quite muddy.

But half an hour of convincing rational argument did the trick and they got to work!


And now we have a shiny new power pole! We think that the internet suddenly got awesome and the power suddenly happened because the Buddhist guardians are blessing everything to keep us working hard on the Ligmincha system! This photo seems to confirm that idea somehow :-)


Free SSL certs for everyone!!!

Posted by Nad on 3 de dezembro de 2015 at 15h53min
This post has the following tags: Server
LetsEncrypt is a new Certificate Authority, it’s free, automated, and open! It went public at 18:00 UTC today, and we had our first certificate made within the hour, and documented the procedure here.

The procedure is far simpler than all the back-and-forth of signing and requests that is required with the "legacy" corporate method, you simply install the LetsEncrypt utility on your server and tell it to make all your sites secure! Simple as that! Although we do have a very complicated configuration so I decided to have it just make the certificates and let me adjust the configuration manually - but even that process was eazy peazy lemon squeezy :-)

Here's screenies of Chromium (right), Firefox and SSL labs responses to our fist test domain secured with a LetsEncrypt certificate.

Ssllabs likes letsencrypt cert.jpg

Oba! our net connection just got WAY better!!!

Posted by Nad on 29 de novembro de 2015 at 06h52min
This post has the following tags: Our third year on the land
Fast net at last!.jpg
Our new big antenna's been awesome, it always gets a usable 3G connection (even though it's only zero or one bar signal) and always gets a four or five bar 2G signal. But regardless of that the actual bandwidth has been getting worse and worse - first just in peak hours, but recently the badness has been creeping forward more and more, until often it's been unusable even at 8am!

But then this morning when I connected I noticed that it was a four bar connection, and we're on 3G!!! I tested the bandwidth to see if it was just some weird glitch and we got a consistent download speed of 2-3 megabits! We've never once had more than a single bar on 3G, and the absolute best bandwidth we've ever had is 1 megabit, and that was very intermittent!

All I can think is that a new tower must have finally gone up near by :-)

(At least I really hope that's the case, rather than it being some strange short-lived atmospheric condition or something!)

Update: By midday the signal had gone up to full strength and our bandwidth was consistently over 3 megabits peaking at over four!

Copy-to-sent bug finally fixed after two years!

Posted by Nad on 24 de novembro de 2015 at 11h37min
This post has the following tags: Server
A couple of years ago I configured the server to do the process of copying user's sent emails into the "Sent" mail folder on the server-side rather than the client having to do it since that effectively involves sending the whole message to the server twice. Not only does it have to be sent twice, but for some reason the Thunderbird email client tends to lock up during the copying to sent process for some reason. So I created this addition to our email configuration procedure which gets the server to do the job instead.

But there's one complication. The message that's copied doesn't have the Bcc header as it's been stripped by the time the message gets to the stage of being copied. It's very important that the messages in the "Sent" folder have their Bcc header because you want to know who the message was sent to, and you may also want to modify and re-send the message again.

So the Exim system-filter that copies the message also calls this Perl script which finds the message that was just copied to the "Sent" folder and then re-builds its Bcc header by getting all the recipients from the Exim $recipients variable and removing the ones found in the To or Cc headers of the message.

The only problem is that it hasn't worked properly ever since it was made two years ago! It's always added the Bcc header even if there wasn't one and put all the recipients in there including those from the To and Cc headers. I finally got around to adding detailed logging into the script so I could track down the problem - which turned out to be nothing more than a "+" symbol needing to be added into the regular expressions that extract the email addresses from the To and Cc headers.