Fermenters Fermenters and Fermenters

I have two fermenters. One is a 6.5 Gallon jug, which has plenty of headspace, and the other is a 1 gallon wine jug which I turned into a fermenter. The wine jug is particularly nice since you only need to divide by 5 on the entire recipe to get exactly what you need. In retrospect, I should have started out at 1 gallon and worked my way up. For reference, 2.5 gallons is roughly a case of beer, so this should be about a sixpack with losses to trub and everything else.

This is actually a wine jug.

This is actually a wine jug.

This is the chamomile beer, it’s 8oz of chamomile, juice of half a lemon, and 1lbs table sugar. It should come out to something stupidly high ABV. Since this recipe is from the middle ages, it called for “wild yeast”. Rather than use wild yeast, or even trying to find some in the middle of winter, I used a packet of bread yeast “specifically for whole grain breads”. Since it fermented like a banshee from the get-go, I believe this was The Right Thing to do.

This is a 6.5 gallon jug

This is a 6.5 gallon jug

This is the 6.5 gallon jug. This was the first all grain batch I did which also had the screens collapse. Turned into a strain-the-grain operation with an old (huge) spaghetti strainer. This led me to the revised tun which Trav helped me build.

OpenSuSE 11.1 is full of win, but new ATI drivers, maybe not

Phortunate the Phoronix Phaggots knew what to do. ATI has had a horrible problem with their drivers in 64bit mode since day one. I’m working on a Dual Core Pentium 4 64bit with an ATI x600 Radeon card here. OpenSuSE 11.1 is a dream but has it’s share of bugs. Ah, the joys of operating system maintenence. Anyway, turns out that whatever you do with the ATI drivers, you end up with /usr/lib/dri. This is full of fail. You want to remove this directory and link ./usr/lib64/dri to here.

Special thanks to the Phoronix Crew.

Linux Arcanum and SMART Warnings

If Languages Were Religions is riotously funny.

I finally figured out what’s wrong with my desktop. For the longest time the instrumentation was just weird. It would crash randomly, have strange bus problems (which I thought were related to aging video cards), and the voltage from the power supply would have a noticeable bit of noise from it. Other than the generic logs of “your computer has recovered from a serious error” there was nothing to point to. MEMTEST would show all the DIMMs had a bad line, so I just assumed the mobo was slowly dying and figured one day I would come home to it not working.

Finally one day I happened to be reading the syslog on my Linux box trying to track down this one idiot on a modem who was trying to hack it when I got the message:

Dec 17 08:29:39 HopsAndBarley smartd[2532]: Device: /dev/sdb, Failed SMART usage Attribute: 9 Power_On_Hours.

OH MY GOD SMART ACTUALLY WORKED. Basically it’s saying my old Linux drive, the one I use all the time, is crapping out. I checked to see where the spare was and realized that the spare became the windows drive (120GB) and my windows drive became my Linux drive. The spare-spare drive I had is a 10GB drive I used to use as a raw device for caching DVD data while authoring. Which means I have no device at all. So I have a choice. I can go through my windows drive and reload it, thus creating enough space for a Linux partition or I can run the computer without the Linux drive entirely and give up my primary OS for the sake of having anything to use at all.

Since the botnets have been a pain recently I came up with a new /etc/hosts.deny

ALL : .ru
ALL : .cn

Basically, if you’re from a .ru, or from .cn, or your IP doesn’t resolve to a hostname, you’re not connecting.

And of course all the other security stuff is in place like denying root login, which seems to be what most of the idiots out there are after.

Here’s the types of logs:

Dec 16 13:12:03 HopsAndBarley sshd[2917]: Invalid user t1na from

These actually go on for quite a few usernames and the guy’s working off a default list. These will now be denied outright by TCPWrappers since they’re caught by hosts.deny’s UNKNOWN directive.

Oct 24 20:19:11 HopsAndBarley sshd[9074]: Invalid user newsletter from
Oct 24 20:19:14 HopsAndBarley sshd[9079]: reverse mapping checking getaddrinfo for dsl-kk-static- [] failed – POSSIBLE BREAK-IN ATTEMPT!

That asshole is from india. I’m trying to decide if I want to blacklist India from connecting to me except that I have Indian friends. I simply set my SSH max auth retries down to 1 and set the “connect” timeout to 5 seconds making it prohibitively expensive time-wise to try this crap.

And finally this poor asshole wins the award:

Dec 8 14:52:29 HopsAndBarley sshd[15188]: Invalid user felix from
Dec 8 14:52:31 HopsAndBarley sshd[15193]: reverse mapping checking getaddrinfo for dial-up-1-118.spb.co.ru [] failed – POSSIBLE BREAK-IN ATTEMPT!

Because it took him so long to connect, he was at it for over 12 hours.

Now, stuff that makes me less happy is that this is OpenSuSE. I love SuSE, it feels like RedHat Done Right. But some of their default security settings aren’t appropriate to a desktop system. I realize there’s probably times where having UNKNOWN hosts denied access would ruin someones websurfing experience, but having SSH respawn indefinitely with no delay or max auth retries is sloppy. On the other hand, OpenSuSE and SuSE in general is really good at not spawning services it doesn’t need, and the default firewall for a desktop host is really restrictive (actually, it denies all inbound traffic without matching outbound traffic). It’s OK to have this as a point defense, but in todays age of browser based exploits, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out someone starts killing Linux desktops by connecting to localhost once they have your browser. A firewall is nice, but defense in depth is a requirement.

Who Blows the Whistleblower?

Newsweek published an article on the NSA Whistleblower for domestic surveillance. Personally I think the guy should be tried for treason since there’s legal venues for blowing the whistle and he chose not to pursue any of them. In fact, he puts together a case of “sympathetic judges”. So why not then blow the whistle through the proper channels and land in one of these sympathetic judges courts? Because he knows he doesn’t have a case. You can read the article here and my comment follows:

Really, really bad. There’s legal paths for whistleblowing, and if Obama chooses to pursue the Bush administration then it’s going to come up that Tamm didn’t follow them and so all discovered evidence is completely moot. On the other hand if a court allows the evidence to be entered, then the court must convict Tamm of treason. Bush and Tamm are inexorably linked.

As far as this piece is written, it absolutely glosses over the difference in technology between when the 1970s laws were written and what we have today. In the new age of digital routing, there’s no idea of physical privacy. It’s just not how networks work. More to the point, the laws are written to prevent wiretapping of calls from Americans to Americans. The idea that an American would call someone in a cave half a world away simply didn’t cross anyone’s mind when these laws and courts were put together.

And thirdly, this article completely ignores the conundrum between FISA and intelligence. The whole point of “back loading” the intel into FISA warrants was to make the wiretaps legal. Consider that the courts themselves became a source of obstruction. If you want to make a legal comparison, this is why the marijuana stamp was thrown out. In order to make your pot legal, you had to posses it, then you had to pay for a tax stamp to make it legal. The supreme court threw out the tax stamp for exactly this reason. If it goes to court, there’s a very high chance that FISA itself will be destroyed for the sake of putting together a new system which works in todays high tech environment against terrorists instead of trying to kludge together a legal defense against the KGB and repurpose it against a completely different organization.

Revised, Revised Mash Tun

All the naysayers who said there would be epic failure were right. The screens collapsed in on themselves once the water level dropped. It probably wouldn’t have happened on a fly sparge or if I doubled up the screens but I just said to hell with it. With the right tubing being under $20 for the kit I would need to remake all my crap, I just bought the correct stuff. While it turned out to be about 3/8ths inch rather than the one half my connectors all are, it semed to turn out OK. I may want to revise it one more time to actually put a pipe on the floor of the tun to get some siphoning action, but it sounds like too much work and I could also simply tilt the grainbed a few degrees and make up for it.

Anyway, here’s the mash tun, rev 3:

Revised Mash Tun, with Sink Kit

Revised Mash Tun, with Sink Kit

Another view of the SINK KIT

Another view of the SINK KIT

The Spoils of Wort: The All Grain All Nighter

God favors the fools and drunkards. We were both tonight.

Best guess: OG was 1.060, but the wort was hotter than it should have been (thermometer was barely reading at 90F) and I needed to add about a half gallon make up water.

Wort is cloudy as hell.

All the naysayers who said the screens wouldn’t work were about right. I started the sparge, got a pint out, put the pint back in and… stuck sparge.

Thankfully my wife has a HUGE spaghetti strainer, which I promptly employed. The grain, strangely enough, fit in there almost exactly meaning I may use it for future batches as my false bottom.

It was Palmer’s Victory and Chaos ale. I may have gone wrong when I added a half hour to the front of the boil (before adding hops) to make up for the fact that the grainbed was a mess and so I used more sparge water than I should have. We’ll see how much of this crap is fermentable and how much is suspended dross, but as I understand it the stuff not soluble in water doesn’t count. Either I made a home run or I’m going to be seriously disappointed.

Ask questions. Sunday – another home depot run to fix all this crap.

Using two pots worked really well, I boiled the one down and by the last 15 minutes, both had lost enough wort to be able to consolidate it. Won’t win any points on color or clarity but for a first AG batch, I won’t say it’s bad.

Stuff I Think is Cool at the Moment

The following post is about beer, distilling, and growing plants.

Stuff I still find amusing: Distilling. Made from ebay parts, this is surprisingly easy. But still entirely illegal if done to make liquor. However, this is required if you want to distill fuel. Like ethanol. With an octane rating of 113, ethanol is a great fuel for your turbo but don’t store it i your vodka bottles. It’s one of those things which is simply illegal in an antiquated way.

Haiku continues to develop some cool stuff, but it also continues to be plagued by lack of drivers, lack of office suites and lack of a web browser. It plays TV though! That’s what the users want, right? At this point, I think the minimum three for an OS are Web Browser, Office, and printing. Without any modern printing system, haiku isn’t going to take center stage any time soon. (For all the people about to flame me, yes I know it has a printing system but no, it’s not nearly as elegant as it should be for what the OS aspires to). I can’t help but feel like I’m using a mac when I fire it up, but I am continuously impressed with how it Just Works and works quickly. On the other hand with no flash support, or web browser, stick to VMWare.

University Scientific looks like the old Zany Brainy (now defunct). What pissed me off about Zany Brainy is that sometimes the “learning toys” went way too far into merchandising. Case in point, the I-DIG treasure kit looks like it might be an awesome learning toy, but instead of letting the kids excavate a bucket of sand with a paintbrush, pick, and whatever else, it’s a styrofoam block, a crappy set of glasses, an equally crappy hammer and chisel (in real life this would destroy your site) and some paint. Wow. I could do better simply making a batch of opaque jello. Science kits are the same way. I’m playing through Fallout 3 now and realizing that the 1950s were the golden age of responsible youth products. Huge amounts of electricity, radioactive material, and chemical sets were distributed to kids while the everpresent pipe smoking father watched over their play. I even had one of those breadboard sets which I mercilessly destroyed but taught me the foundation of digital logic. That’s cool stuff! That’s a learning toy! Kids today are simply screwed. Actually I like the Snap Circuits thing, I remember blowing a diode and the vapors were terrible along with the pop it made.

Beer – All grain first batch is going down tomorrow. Wish me luck.