Google WiFi

When it comes to my home internet I’m a bit obsessive. I check my speed several times a day, and I am very cognizant of latency. I’ve read deeply into cable modems and the “channels” they can handle as well as twisted pair DSL, and Fiber.  I digress into something more helpful.

I have always felt that 20Mbps should be enough for most homes, and my plan is currently at 200Mbps!  Even at these speeds my Netflix was buffering, and when I have multiple kids on Minecraft and the Wii the network feels like dialup. We have been through so many wireless routers that I have a graveyard of the ones that didn’t get returned. (anyone want a nighthawk?)

Mesh network technology has been around for a long time in internet years. It’s a sound technology and usually reserved for complicated setups and administration in businesses, and especially warehouse spaces. So when I was reading what Google and Eero and other companies were doing I was intrigued, but not enough to keep messing with my routers and my settings.

Then one fateful day I was walking through Lowes with Tina and we ended up in the home automation section (not shocking). I was explaining the various devices and how we should probably get some more Nest smoke detectors, when we came to the wifi devices. As I explained to Tina how these work,  it all clicked for me. Why would I NOT be using these!  Google had just conveniently discounted their 3 Pack to $269  I could not wait to find the time to install them.

The install took about 20 minutes. That is, from the time I opened the box to having placed the devices and we were up and surfing!  Our perceived bandwidth went from slooooooooow to almost predictive. Facebook on iOS no longer lagged on loading below the fold, Netflix was crystal clear…the whole show, and no one wondered when I paused their internet, if it was me or Comcast. Reliable home internet! Yay!

Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken

Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken

Ingredients

3 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup buttermilk
Half-Gallon Peanut oil

Directions

In a resealable plastic bag set in a bowl combine the 3 cups buttermilk, the coarse salt, and sugar. Cut chicken breasts in half crosswise. Add all chicken pieces to the brine; seal bag. Turn bag to coat chicken with brine mixture. Chill for 2 to 4 hours; remove chicken from brine. Drain chicken; pat dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl combine flour, the 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Divide flour mixture evenly between two shallow dishes. Place the 3/4 cup buttermilk in another shallow dish. Dip chicken into flour mixture in the first shallow dish, turning to completely coat. Dip flour-coated chicken in the buttermilk, turning to coat. Coat again with flour mixture in the second shallow dish.

Meanwhile, in a deep, heavy Dutch oven or kettle, (or a deep-fat fryer) heat 1-2 inches oil to 350 degrees F. Using tongs carefully add a few pieces of chicken to Dutch oven. (Oil temperature will drop; maintain temperature of 325 degrees F.) Fry chicken for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F for breasts; 180 degrees F for thighs and drumsticks), and coating is golden, turning once. Drain on rack, otherwise it gets soggy!

Keep fried chicken warm in a 180 degree F oven while frying remaining chicken pieces. Makes 6 servings.

Sunday Supper
Sunday Supper

Additional fun:

Spicy Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken:

Prepare as above, except add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the flour mixture.

Pecan Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken:

Prepare as above, except, reduce the flour to 1-1/4 cups and add 3/4 cup ground pecans to the flour mixture.

Nutrition Facts per 3 ounces chicken: don’t worry about it.

Setting up an FTP server on your Amazon Linux AMI

Step #1: Install vsftpd

SSH to your EC2 server. Type:

> sudo yum install vsftpd

This should install vsftpd.

Step #2: Open up the FTP ports on your EC2 instance

Next, you’ll need to open up the FTP ports on your EC2 server. Log in to the AWS EC2 Management Console and select Security Groups from the navigation tree on the left. Select the security group assigned to your EC2 instance. Select the Inbound tab and add port range 20-21:

enter image description here

Also add port range 1024-1048:

enter image description here

Step #3: Make updates to the vsftpd.conf file

Edit your vsftpd conf file by typing:

> sudo vi /etc/vsftpd/vsftpd.conf

Disable anonymous FTP by changing this line:

anonymous_enable=YES

to

anonymous_enable=NO

Then add the following lines to the bottom of the vsftpd.conf file:

pasv_enable=YES
pasv_min_port=1024
pasv_max_port=1048
pasv_address=<Public IP of your instance> 

Your vsftpd.conf file should look something like the following – except make sure to replace the pasv_address with your public facing IP address:

enter image description here

Step #4: Restart vsftpd

Restart vsftpd by typing:

> sudo /etc/init.d/vsftpd restart

You should see a message that looks like:

enter image description here

Step #5: Create an FTP user

If you take a peek at /etc/vsftpd/user_list, you’ll see the following:

# vsftpd userlist
# If userlist_deny=NO, only allow users in this file
# If userlist_deny=YES (default), never allow users in this file, and
# do not even prompt for a password.
# Note that the default vsftpd pam config also checks /etc/vsftpd/ftpusers
# for users that are denied.
root
bin
daemon
adm
lp
sync
shutdown
halt
mail
news
uucp
operator
games
nobody

This is basically saying, “Don’t allow these users FTP access.” vsftpd will allow FTP access to any user not on this list.

So, in order to create a new FTP account, you may need to create a new user on your server. (Or, if you already have a user account that’s not listed in /etc/vsftpd/user_list, you can skip to the next step.)

Creating a new user on an EC2 instance is pretty simple. For example, to create the user ‘bret’, type:

> sudo adduser bret
> sudo passwd bret

Here’s what it will look like:

enter image description here

Step #6: Restricting users to their home directories

At this point, your FTP users are not restricted to their home directories. That’s not very secure, but we can fix it pretty easily.

Edit your vsftpd conf file again by typing:

> sudo vi /etc/vsftpd/vsftpd.conf

Un-comment out the line:

chroot_local_user=YES

It should look like this once you’re done:

enter image description here

Restart the vsftpd server again like so:

> sudo /etc/init.d/vsftpd restart

All done!

 

Appendix A: Surviving a reboot

vsftpd doesn’t automatically start when your server boots. If you’re like me, that means that after rebooting your EC2 instance, you’ll feel a moment of terror when FTP seems to be broken – but in reality, it’s just not running!. Here’s a handy way to fix that:

> sudo chkconfig --level 345 vsftpd on

Setting up an Amazon Linux AMI webserver (ec2)

Setting up a web server on Amazon Linux AMI

Make sure all your currently installed packages are up to date.

   sudo yum -y update

You use yum to install all the software you need on your server. You can use the following command to install apache, mysql and php and the php extensions and all dependencies:

   sudo yum -y install aspell aspell-en aspell-fr aspell-es cvs httpd mysql mysql-server php php-cli php-gd php-intl php-mbstring php-mysql php-pdo php-soap php-xml php-xmlrpc php-pspell

You can list all your installed packages (including dependencies) with this command :

   sudo yum list installed

Start server services and have them start up automatically on a reboot

Configure the new services to start automatically.

   sudo  /sbin/chkconfig httpd on
   sudo   /sbin/chkconfig mysqld on

   sudo  /sbin/service httpd start
   sudo   /sbin/service mysqld start

Edit httpd.conf

If you need to edit httpd.conf it is in /etc/httpd/conf

But by default the directory /var/www/html/ is the root web directory and you can install your web apps in there.

If you do edit httpd.conf then you must restart apache using this command for the changes to take effect :

   sudo  /sbin/service httpd restart

Set up MYSQL

sudo mysqladmin -u root password 'new-password'

Make additional security-related changes to mysql. This can be done very easily with the command “mysql_secure_installation” and answering conservatively.

sudo mysql -u root -p

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Chicken:
3-4 Chicken Breast Tenderloins
1 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup pineapple chunks
2 cups bell pepper chunks
1 cup pearl onions
Salt and pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Put the chicken into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat the chicken. Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie plate. Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet.

Sauce:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

image

Bake and Grill Loin Back Ribs

This recipe will produce the best ribs with any cut of ribs, but I especially like it as a smoking alternative for pork loin back ribs. The key to success for this recipe is the pan of water in the oven. I use a turkey sized roasting pan and fill it with water, then place it under the ribs to catch any leaks and provide extra moisture.

I season the ribs the night before with cumin, paprika, ground red pepper, chile powder and put them in plastic wrap or ziploc bags (do not wrap them in foil at this point).

The day of take them out and let them come to room temperature while wrapping them in foil. Fill the roaster pan part of the way with water and preheat the oven to 280º. Place the foil wrpapped ribs on a rack above the roaster with water. Let it be for 2 hours per 4 lbs of ribs.

Once it reaches 140 the food borne illnesses are dead and you can finish to whatever degree you like. I prefer 145, but others prefer 160. Remember to rest it and the meat will rise another 7-9 degrees.

Create a Lion Bootable USB key installer

Lion Disk Maker is an application programmed with AppleScript that you can use with Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and OS X 10.8 to burn a DVD or build a bootable drive from Mac OS X Lion or OS X Mountain Lion Installation program. As soon as you launch the application, it tries to find the OS X Install program with Spotlight. Then, it proposes to build a DVD or create a bootable install disk. It’s the easiest way to build an OS X Installer in a few clicks !

http://liondiskmaker.com/

Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cups milk
6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
DIRECTIONS:
1. Melt butter in a medium, non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add cream cheese and garlic powder, stirring with wire whisk until smooth. Add milk, a little at a time, whisking to smooth out lumps. Stir in Parmesan and pepper. Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency. Sauce will thicken rapidly, thin with milk if cooked too long. Toss with hot pasta to serve.

Ham and Cheese Crepes

2013-03-18 10.01.40For the crepes:
250 ml whole milk (1 cup + 2 TBS)
125 grams AP flour (1 cup + 2 tsp)
2 large eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
5 grams unsalted butter, melted & reserved

1. Combine eggs & milk in blender and pulse to combine.
2. With motor running slowly add flour and salt, blend till completely combined.
3. Chill for 30 minutes to overnight.
4. Heat an 8″ nonstick (or crepe pan) over medium high heat.
5. Add butter, when melted add to batter and pulse to combine.
6. Add batter to pan, tilting and swirling to cover bottom of pan.
7. Cook until edges are slightly browned, approximately 1 minute.
8. Turn and cook for 15 seconds. Remove to plate till ready to use.

For the filling:
1/2 cup ham (preferably NOT smoked), diced
1 cup gruyere cheese, grated

For the sauce:
1 Pint mushrooms (white, crimini, shitake or blend), sliced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 clove garlic, minced
2 TBS flour, AP
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
Butter for pan

1. Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add butter to melt.
2. Add mushrooms and saute until light brown, add shallot and mushroom and saute until just softened.
3. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir to combine.
4. Add milk/cream stirring to combine. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.
5. Season with salt.

Crispy Fried Chicken

2013-03-17 18.29.312 1/2 – 3 lb. cut up frying chicken
Crisco for deep frying

SEASONED FLOUR:
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
Combine all ingredients. Set aside.

CRISPY BATTER:
2/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 beaten egg yolk
3/4 c. water

Combine flour and seasonings in a bowl. Combine water and egg yolk. Gradually add to dry ingredients. Heat Crisco to 365°F in deep pan or fryer to a depth of about 2-inches. Moisten chicken pieces. Dip in seasoned flour then into batter then back in flour. Fry in hot Crisco for 15 to 18 minutes or until well browned. Drain on paper.

5 to 6 servings.