Securing your router and network.

February 28, 2016

I’m not sure why I had so much trouble setting up security again on my router during the PC and Internet/cable connection. But I had several other devices on my internet connection. But it was a good lesson on securing my internet.

I went with 2 layers of security. I did WPA encryption on the wireless access and set the router to accept only specified MAC addresses are allowed on my network.  A MAC address is unique identity to every tablet, PC, Laptop or wireless device. I set up my router to only allow certain MAC addresses to access my network/router. It takes a bit more effort adding each MAC address but if you have a lot of wireless devices or are going for “smart TVs and appliances” you may want to add or deny the appliance access to the internet.

Most hackers are not sitting around tpeying to “Crack” passwords. They have bought software that looks for crappy security and then get into networks. In a way they are are like burglars testing open doors and windows of a house.  Given enough time and effort the “bad guys” can break into your house or break into your network. All a person can do is make several layer of security and hope the bad guys get bored and look for an easier target.

I think setting up your router/ wi fi internet access for MAC only addresses you add is the best way to stop the bad guys.  I set my router for “authorized MAC addresses” and that worked as good or better than setting a strong WI-FI password. I still recommend you make a strong password of 8-12 letters and characters for your wi-fi connection.

I’m not a fan of the new “Internet of Things”. I want dumb TV and appliances, so I don’t get recorded or the cracker can turn on appliance setting at random. I think I can handle prepping milk for a disaster and I don’t need a “smart appliance” nagging me about my grocery/food choices.

This Apple Iphone of terrorists and the FBI is all theater to give Apple cover as the have no problem giving the Chinese government access.  The FBI simply wants cover to access everyone’s cell phone under Bush’s TSA and homeland Security act.  Facebook require you give up any and all anonymity  to communicate.

Ben Franklin published under a “user name” of Poor Richard.  Fighting TPTB does not require a person to be stupid or make themselves a target.  I don’t see many political movement that work if they require death. I know I don’t want to die. Even with thing going all “crazy”.  So when some idiot claims you are a coward. Tell them there is a difference between being brave and being stupid!

Bottom line I can only say what I am doing to try and protect myself from the PTBs.  I hope I can buy a place with a bit of land and some distance away from people/politicians. Until then I will improve “Casa de Chaos” as much as possible.

 


I got the new Desktop PC built, finally!

February 27, 2016

This desktop PC took a long time to buy all the parts and get them shipped. I bought the wrong type memory sticks and I had to get a new power supply as the old one died after 8-10 years of good service. I bought a Windows 7 DVD to load software, plus I like having a physical disc of the software I install for trouble shooting or if I have a hard drive go bad the actual disc makes reloading the software much easier. I did not get a physical copy of Windows 7 with either laptop as the “disc/software” is stored on the hard drive. So if one of those hard drives fail I would lose the the Windows 7 Operating system. That is very bad and adds to the cost of getting a new hard drive in case of failure.  This will probably be the last Windows operating system I buy, as Windows 8 sucks for Desktops and Windows 10 is basically spy ware for Microsoft. That being said I think that Windows 7 is a great operating System for any PC as it seems to strike a good balance for ease of use and lots of options for a more hard-core PC user.

For the actual build of the Desktop PC, I upgraded to a multi-core AMD processor, DDR3 memory, a mid-range video card and Motherboard. I reused a couple of serial ATA Hard drives and DVD drive along with the old tool less Cooler master computer case. When you build your own desktop you can reuse older parts along with being able to upgrade or just do simple “pluck & chuck” repairs. Overall building your own PC will probably cost a bit more than an average desk top at the local Best Buy or Office depot but you tend to get a lot more “bang for your buck”. Plus you can keep pace tech wise via upgrading by adding video card, hard drive,  memory or a faster CPU/processor for a lot less money than buying a new desk top PC.  My last desk top lasted for over 8 years because I bought good basic parts that could be upgraded. This was during a time when video/gaming  technology exploded for high end graphics, lots of memory and multi-core processors were needed just to run some programs. Some games came out that literally could not be run at the highest setting by any Commercially available Desktop and the game developers bragged about it! Games like Far Cry or Crysis I can probably run on this Mid-range Desktop I just built.

I love how cheap data storage is today. Jump drives/USB sticks, memory cards and hard drives are so cheap and easy to use there just isn’t a good excuse not to make backup Digital copies of your computers, important paper work and photos.

Lat but not least, having a semi-powerful Desktop PC, a laptop and Wi-fi capable tablet or smart phone gives you redundancy.  I prefer a desktop as my primary PC because I like to game and tend to do a bit more  on a pc than email or word processing. The Laptop is great for bug out situations and can be kept as a backup in case of power outages, CME (Coronal Mass Ejections) /EMP and my Kindle fire is great for books as well as accessing the internet via wi-fi. A business person might need a more powerful laptop for work and the desktop used for storage/backup.

It is sort of like having a large pickup for hauling loads and a small car that is good on gas mileage. Both vehicles will transport you from A to B but each do some tasks better than others.

 


Can you make French toast in a disater?

February 24, 2016
Almost every disaster or storm with a bit of lead time. We see grocery  dairy aisles cleaned out of milk, and eggs. Bread and bakeries look like the the leftovers of pillaging. I have to say I do make a bit of sport of the “pillagers” because it is so easy to prepare ahead of any storm.
I hope you have a good handle on the most common weather or earth events in your area.  From earthquakes,  tornadoes, blizzards (very cold weather) power outages or hurricanes and Wild fires. I know I left out a few things like flooding, landslides and other natural disasters that happen with regularity in certain areas but you get the idea.
Give the local people a bit a warning and a few things are certain to happen in any forecast disaster.
1. Bread,  milk and eggs will be get cleaned out of all grocery stores in about 6-12 hours.  The dreaded French toast hoarders.  You can buy and all the ingredients to make white bread that will last 5years (unbleached white flour) to infinity speaking of salt, sugar/honey.  You can buy cases of evaporated milk or boxes powdered milk (chill the powder milk/water mix and add 1/2 teaspoon of real vanilla extract for taste). Grow chickens for eggs or you can buy a  dehydrator and make your own dried eggs.  That covers the ingredients of French toast.
2. How to cook/bake the basics needed for French toast.  Most people have a gas grill or a charcoal grill and baking 5 minute Artisan bread is easy on a Pizza stone. I recommend buying a small propane camp grill or a butane burner for use with non cast iron cook ware.  If you have a Dutch oven you can go crazy baking and roasting foods.
3.Staying warm: I really like the Mr. Buddy or Big Buddy heaters for backup  if you have electric heat. The “Buddy heaters” have an O2 sensor but I recommend you get a Carbon monoxide monitor and double check all smoke alarms. It’s dumb to get dead, just because you think running a heater or generator 24/7 is the thing to do in a disaster. First off you will run out of fuel and most “full” fridge and freezers can stay cool/cold running about 4-6 hour per day. If you have a wood fire place or wood stove stock up on wood. If you have a Natural gas fireplace get a propane conversion kit and get some tanks on hand.
3. The big storm knocks out all power: Well you will want to let family and friends know you are safe if the internet or cell phones are up and working. You will need battery backups and power supplies. Text messages out of the local disaster area tend to get through compared to phone calls.
4. Most urban or suburban people are not ready for a dark night without street lights. Buy solar lamps that can be charged out side in the sun and provide some light indoors. LED flashlights/ head lamps, hurricane lamps or camping lanterns plus a few candles with mirrors behind the lamps can help keep “panic” at a minimum.
5. Before any storm clean the house and do dishes, laundry, vacuum carpets. Charge all phones, tablets and test out laptop batteries. Does the UPS actually keep the PC or laptop powered or is the battery a dud? I have a foldable 15 watt solar panel and a Rosewell 13500 milli amp battery pack. The little battery pack does a great job charging my cell phone and Kindle Fire. Now just need to test if the solar panel will charge the battery pack.
I don’t recommend any sort of panic buying. You just get some basics via rice/ beans and grains you like and buy all sort of spices for different meals. Trust me “food fatigue” is some thing all preppers need to be aware of and work to make their stockpile avoid it.

Home Depot tile class and stocking up

February 24, 2016

The installing tile class at Home depot was great! I learned a lot about the new materials  you can use to install tile without cutting out drywall or using cement backer board. There are new products on the market that make installing tile much more simple and can save you steps compared to using the “old school” way to install tile.  Building materials are dropping in price. So if you are looking to do some home improvement projects now is a good time to stock up on materials you need for the job.

Mom and I hit the local farm store and stocked up on dry dog food and chicken feed. I need to buy some kitty food next “shopping day” but we have plenty of dry dog food for all of the pups. Mom got about a month’s worth of feed for the chickens and with the weather warming up the birds will do more free ranging in the yard to augment the feed. The chickens love scratching in the raised garden beds. The birds are like free mini-rototillers that work the soil. Plus the daily egg production is going up even though Mom’s birds are getting a bit old as egg producers. I know some people think installing the radiant heat barrier/insulation was over the top for a chicken coop. But, the radiant barrier stopped a lot of drafts as well as providing a bit of insulation.

Mom and I stocked up on more paper products last week and this week Albertson’s has Hamburger for $1.88 per pound and Fred Meyers has butter for $1.99 per pound with coupon. One of best aspects about prepping is once you have the basics on hand you can buy things on sale for the future, rather than pay higher prices because you ran out of an item and must have it.

The war on cash is starting to heat up. The PTBs always send out Op-Eds too float ideas first via the “Talking heads” testing the waters or simply see if people are paying attention. The latest war on cash idea is killing the $100.00 bill and the Federal Reserve talking about Negative interest rates along with banks getting Bailed in by depositors. Because a $100.00 bill is so much money and only terrorists or criminals would use such a high denomination bill!  Of course any one that shops at a grocery store or goes to a sporting event/dinner and a movie could never spend a $100.00.  /sarcasm  Heck you would be doing good if you spent only $100.00.

I don’t think you should stock up on $100.00 or even $50.00 bills. Everything I am reading about the “War on Cash” suggests the $20.00 and $5.00 dollar bills will stay as cash money for us “poor folk”. Before you say I’m crazy remember the USA used to have a $500.00 and $1000.00 bill in circulation, but the Federal Reserve just stopped making those bills to protect us “people” from all those nasty criminals and terrorists. I don’t remember any sort of vote or even a news broadcast, when the decision was made and implemented. Once you have stocked up on the basics for about 3 months. I think building a “cash reserve” of 3-6 months of payments/living expenses is just as important as building your food, energy  and water supply.  For long term savings I recommend either gold or silver. While I believe the value of PMs will go up relative to the dollar/ any fiat currency. I also think gold and silver will have buying power in either a inflationary or deflationary economic melt down.

I don’t care that a gallon of gas costs $1.50 or less per gallon or less and is in a deflationary cycle. If I have a 90% junk silver dime I can sell for $2.00-$2.50 at a local pawn shop. Based on silver a gallon of gas is very cheap compared to 1964 prices.  With a “fiat” currency and induced “inflation via the Central Bank or Federal Reserve. Gas is not all that expensive at $2.50+ per gallon, it’s that dollars are  becoming worthless.

Cash will be king in any disaster at least for a few weeks. PM’s will be valued next, and people will find a way to barter, like the “tally sticks” people used in England during the Medieval period.  A loaf of bread in in the “Weimar Republic” went from about one “Gold Mark” in 1913 Germany, to over a billion paper marks in 1923. Have you bought supplies to make bread?

There is a great page that covers “When Money dies” Search it out and then prepare. I think making a loaf bread  to pay off a mortgage sounds great but that only works if you bought and store all of ingredients before hyper-inflation happens. The PTBs will not give you a heads up before the economy collapses.

The worst that happens I learn to bake bread, I don’t need to buy bread at a grocery store and I in a disaster I don’t need to go shopping for bread or eggs (Mom’s chickens)  and I have bought a couple of cases of Evaporated milk and powder milk is already on hand.  In any emergency I am ready to make French Toast.  🙂

 

 

 


Getting bids, Doggie BOBs and local grocery store bought out.

February 19, 2016

I had to get a lead paint survey done for the roofing loan and the people that did the survey were very helpful suggesting cheap ways to mitigate any lead paint chips so my critters would not ingest lead. Casa de Chaos only has a a couple of potential bad spots and it will not affect the work I want to get done via the city loan. Getting bids and doing the research on good contractors takes a lot more effort than I had anticipated. Thank goodness for the internet and computers making emailing the “scope of work” from the city easy to copy and paste. Plus having client ratings for the electrical, plumbing and roofers I’m authorized to get bids on the jobs makes getting the first bids a bit easier to start.  A $10 grand limit loan seems like a lot of money, but anyone who has contracted construction jobs knows that $10 grand won’t get a lot of work done using contractors.

All you construction pros please don’t take that in a bad way. Most of you are professionals and take a lot of pride in your work. Making/repairing homes is hard work and takes time, energy and knowledge I don’t have. You should be paid well for that, I just have to limit the jobs to that little bit of money I can afford to pay.  One cool thing is I may help the city and a couple of local contractors “hook up” with the city doing this sort of repair jobs.  The gal running the program and the building inspector are looking for good contractors for this program.  Overall I think I got in with a good bunch at the City of Nampa as well as people that want work as well want to do a good-great job. This is a program that needs to work and so far the contractors I have contacted are more than willing to work with the city and give bids in order to get the work done. Hopefully everything will work out to everyone’s advantage. The city will get a list of good contractors, I get a low interest loan to take care of my older house’s structural/safety issues. While 100 years is not a lot of time. I like the idea of fixing up historical areas and using modern materials that reproduce an era.

From the water main fiasco I would recommend you ask to see all work permits from the city and refuse to pay the last bit of money to any contractor until the final inspection is done by the city code inspector.  I have no problem giving a contractor 1/3-1/2 of the money on a contract for materials once they get the permit and then paying the rest on city inspector’s okie dokie.  Sorry, construction guys the bad fly-by-night jerks make that a requirement for me. I can’t afford small claims court and the bad guys/ripoff artists will just set up business under a new name when sued. I have to say after getting job bids for my little project I have gained a lot of respect for general  contractors. Getting bids and lining up workers on a time line is not easy.

I’m building up the Doggie’s BOBs. I’m feeding Pedigree soft canned dog food but I’m adding Pedigree soft/wet food pouches to the doggie BOBs to save weight.  Changing any pet’s diet can cause stomach upset so it is best if you have at least a few days worth of their normal feed and a bit more to mix with the “new normal” feed if you have to bug out.  I have added brushes, combs and nail clippers along with some basic bandages and OTC meds to help keep the pets happy and healthy. Leashes and backup collars so the animals will not run off along with enough small kennels/carry boxes that will give the critters a safe place if I need to bug out. I added  a couple of  metal water bottles, I want to get a small Sawyer water filter just for the critters bug out bag.  I am still testing out a few ideas for water and food dishes. I’m looking for a compromise on weight, storage size and ease of cleaning.

Paul’s a local grocery store was just bought out by Albertson’s and I’m a little peeved. I try hard to support local business but I also know most grocery stores operate on razor thin profit margins.  I can’t really blame people going for the cheapest price when money is tight. But Paul’s was sort of like a poor man’s whole foods for buying local. Some good news, I saw a cashier from Paul’s in Nampa get hired by Albertson’s.  I know there will be some downsizing and consolidation but it is nice to know that Albertson’s is giving some of the workers from Paul’s a job.

Mom and and I must get out in the country and at best it will take the rest of 2016 just to get all the equipment and tools we need just to make the attempt of going country.  This is not our first rodeo, we know making a go in Owhyee county will take a lot of work. We are trying to get all of the tools on hand as cheaply as possible before we move. But with Mom’s divorce dragging out I suspect we will need to hang out here in the city for another 10-12 months.

Don’t worry about us as the Casa de Chaos is getting a new roof and a few electrical and plumbing jobs done.  Oh we may hate we that we are stuck here for a bit.  But I got the new hard side green house and a soft side on hand and ready to set up.  I’ll add a 300-500 gallon water tank next month.  While Mom is a bit frustrated about the divorce going into it’s 15th month.

I am working to get Casa de Chaos fixed up and set up for a perma-culture/food forest and ready for the real estate market.  Will it work? I don’t have a clue. but I know doing nothing, won’t work.  If you are  standing still, you are a target at best or tend to get run over at worse. As a wise person said ” Get busy living or get busy dying. Your choice!

 

 

 

 


Crown molding class at Home Depot

February 14, 2016

The class was not what I expected as it covered, what to buy and how to use different types of molding. It seems the gal giving the class did not show up and Home Depot sort of made the class up at the last minute. Don’t get me wrong I did learn a few things and got a couple of great ideas, but it wasn’t worth giving up my nap time on a Sunday afternoon. Plus standing on a concrete floor for 1.5 hours + just sucks for me physically. I still think the free classes are worth signing up for but not during afternoon “nap time”.  I’m really looking forward to the tile/back splash class next Saturday at Home Depot. There is a new “mat” you can place over drywall that replaces cement backer board.  That will make adding tile wall/backsplash accents much easier to install.

Mom gives me a hard time about improving the house, but overall she gets that I’m trying to strike a balance on the house looking good to sell and will also be a good for  a disaster, and if it takes a little more time before we can get the country place because of the economy. We can survive here fairly well with what we have on hand. I hope we can get out of the city this year. Things may not work out for “Plan A” so getting this house and yard fixed up is “Plan B” that sort of feeds into “Plan A”.

The worst that can happen via the divorce is Mom must live here a bit longer than she anticipated as she gets no “cash out” of the jointly held assets. I have a good credit rating and homes in my area are selling at a high price, quickly and even some bidding wars are happening. I know real estate prices can shift up or down very quickly but I think adding a new roof, fixing up the small electrical and plumbing issues along with making pretty in the house and a perm a-culture setup in the yard. I’ll make this a great house for selling as well as a great place to live if Mom and I need a year or two getting all our “ducks in a row” moving to Owyhee County.

I’m  at the lower part of the “economic food chain” and I have invested a lot of time, effort and energy making this house a home.  Any house/ home is just 4 walls and a roof.  It’s nothing more than shelter against the elements. It’s people, not homes that make a neighborhood, community, town or city. This house was great for a “community”  but with the divorce and the “good neighbors”  moving out. The only thing (Community) holding me here is gone. I want to “pop smoke” right away, but it will take a bit of time to gather cash and tools going country.

Some updates: Don’t waste your money on those plastic saw horses you see on sale. I picked up some metal brackets for $3.00 to make good saw horses via a couple of 2×4 that will be more substantial and with low cost actually last longer and be lower in cost the long run. Buy lumber now! at least a few 2×4 s and some plywood for basic building materials and covering windows up if you can’t afford security bars. If you can afford it start upgrading your home.  If you need to spend a few weeks indoors because of weather/ sickness or an economic collapse. The better you are prepared, life will be easier.

I don’t know where you are on your “prepping/survival” journey. The loss of a job or fire/flood can really screw up anyone’s plans. I sure as heck never thought I would become 100 %disabled and spend 3 months at the VA and 6-9 months living on $400.00 a month. Don’t be me, when I first started prepping. Learn from other people’s mistakes as well as the things that go right.

Being a prepper/survivalist/homesteader can be fun or at least interesting. It all depends on your attitude.  A pessimist sees the glass 1/2 full of water only half full and thinks negative. An optimist sees the glass as 1/2 full and thinks positive. I see the glass always full, of air or water. It simply depends on your point of view.


Computers and electronic stuff

February 12, 2016

I got most of the parts installed for the updating the Desktop PC. I ordered the wrong memory sticks so it will be next week before I can give you a report on how the PC performs. The refurb HP laptop is running like a champ and the Windows 7 operating system is working great with older programs made for Windows XP!  I want a desktop PC for several reasons:

  • With desktop PC you can upgrade hardware easily to stay current with technological advances.  Laptops are very difficult to upgrade beyond a hard drive or memory sticks.
  • Building your own desktop machine often is cheaper than buying a store bought machine as you can reuse older parts or computer cases to hole the parts of the new PC.
  • You can build a more powerful desktop for a lot less money than buying powerful laptop. For example: The desktop I am building will have more memory, more hard drive space, a dedicated video card for graphics (gaming/video editing). A somewhat powerful laptop for gaming will cost about a thousand dollars. A desktop PC with the same gaming capability of that laptop can be built for $500.00 or less.
  • Having both a laptop and desktop PC provides redundancy for your computer needs. While both computer will do most jobs, a laptop is better if the power goes out or if you need to bug out. A desktop gives you a lot processing power for daily tasks.
  • I want to have a laptop stored in my “faraday cage” that can be updated and somewhat capable in case of a CME or I need to bugout.  The internet is now the place to get information, so I think all preppers must have wifi/mesh networks or access to the internet for info.
  • Life goes on even if you are prepping for Armageddon! I would not suggest that gaming is life, but there is nothing wrong going out on WOW raids or playing a few hours of a FPS/RPG game. Actually those games are a great way to talk to gamers world wide and get their opinion on what is happening locally in their country.

I tested out the Rosewell 1300 milli-amp hour charger on my kindle and cell phone. I used the 2 amp USB port and both the kindle were recharged in about 4 hours the phone was charged in about 2 hours. I guesstimate about the same amount of time charging via an electrical outlet.  The Kindle fire was at a 50% percent charge but I can’t give you a % remaining charge on the phone. I guesstimate about a 25-33% was remaining on the cell phone battery. The battery pack showed a 75% charge remaining after charging the Kindle fire and less than 75% of the battery pack was used to charge the the cell phone. The next test on a sunny day will be to use the 15 watt folding solar panel to recharge the Rosewell battery pack.

For solar power I’m doing a combination of 100 watt panels, AGW batteries and then several smaller battery packs that can be charged via home outlets and recharged via small solar panels. Adding batteries to your BOB can get very heavy, very quick. If it works having a small fold able 15 watt solar panel charging a small battery pack to recharge small electronic device might be something to add to your “bugout” plan.

I can’t speak for anyone else,  but I love all of the books I have downloaded on my kindle and I want to have all that data available if things go a bit sideways. The worse that can happen is everything won’t work despite all my planning.  If something works then I am ahead of the game.

Most prepping starts out as being ready for local/regional ” natural/personal disasters”.  If you start small on preparing for most common local disaster you might experience and then build on that basic set up you will be prepared for “most” of the slings and arrows of outrageous “bad luck”.