DIY Learning Tower

I have recently come to know the concept of a “learning tower”. This is a slightly more stable stepladder for toddlers to reach the counter top in the kitchen or the sink, long before they have the height to do so. With my son always requiring a lot of attention and wanting to be involved, I thought that would be just right for him. When I started looking up the prices of these, I was quite surprised: Apparently something so simple can turn out very expensive. I guess it always depends what the target group is willing to pay. A second though led me to Ikea and, after discovering there is nothing suitable available, to Ikea hackers. One of the most common DIY learning towers you find out there is constructed by bolting the Ikea Bekväm ladder and Oddvar stool together. At the time of this writing this comes up to some 36 Euros material cost (plus screws) and ends in a construction which is likely not very stable, not looking nicely. After searching for a little while longer, I stumbled on this post which is still based on the Ikea ladder, but adds a custom frame on top. This already looks much better. However, when already going custom, I thought I might just go all the way and built a fully custom learning tower. That kept me busy for the day. I think the final result looks great and for one day work at less than 19 Euros (plus screws) material cost, this is a real bargain.

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Kirby 2 -> Jekyll

As I switched my website from the Kirby 2 to Jekyll (see also here), I needed to convert the pages. I did that in a a fairly manual way, with the help of some simple macros. This was acceptable since I did not need to convert many pages. In the following, I describe the required changes, based on the features and plugins I have used.

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New Website

Since my server provider is upgrading his systems, this means I will have to move to a newer server. Since the old version of Kirby will no longer run without problems on the newer PHP versions (7+) of the new server, I decided to go with a new website instead of re-licensing the new version of Kirby.

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Load Balancing and High Availability

In my last article Home Network Upgrade - Basics, I described the setup of a Raspberry Pi-based cluster I plan on using for the core of my upgraded home network. One issue there, however, was that the devices need to be addressed directly. E.g., a service running on Kubernetes is available via the IP addresses of both nodes, if everything is working fine. But the client needs to select one address. E.g., if a client uses node01, and this node fails, the client needs to adjust. This is undesirable for our setup. This we need to introduce a means for fail-over. Additionally, we use the same setup for load balancing the incoming requests. In this private setup load balancing is less of a requirement, but high availability is much desired.

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Home Network Upgrade - Basics

In this article (and likely following ones) I will be setting up a new home network infrastructure, using cloud technologies such as distributed file systems, containers, and orchestration mechanisms to abstract from the hardware, allowing redundancy in the infrastructure, as well as easier scalability in future.

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Home Assistant, GPSLogger & no open port

I have recently started venturing into the area of home automation a little more. As you can expect, my focus is running a system as flexible, functional and yet secure as possible. This involves to not use components connected to the Internet. The details of this, however, shall be the content of another article. There, I will introduce the hardware (currently undergoing changes) and platform I use. This article instead covers the higher-layer challenge of tracking Android phones positions (and via this the positions of people) with GPSLogger and bringing that information to Home Assistant. While this works out of the box in Home Assistant, it requires Home Assistant, or, more specifically, the GPSLogger integration, to be available to the phone. This typically means an open port to the web server of Home Assistant. Seeing all the other control options available via the web interface, I did not want to risk exposing these, in case of a security incident. Thus, this article will present a solution to tunnel GPSLogger data into Home Assistant via a web server.

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