Bradley Gannon

Heirloom Database


Some older people in my family own a house that contains a lot of old stuff. A subset of that stuff has associated family history and sentimental value, but the only people who know it are the oldest members of my family. The younger people in my family (like me) don’t have much of a clue what’s valuable and what isn’t, and someday when the older people have died, their knowledge may be lost forever. In that case, those of us who remained alive would have to guess the value of these items based on scraps of conversations, context, and intuition. We certainly wouldn’t know the details of any stories attached to the items, which contain a good portion of their personal value.

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Netbook NAS


TL;DR: I built a network-attached storage server out of a netbook and a USB hard drive bay. The system works well, and the hardware was inexpensive. I used ZFS to provide redundancy and efficient offsite replication.

A netbook and USB drive bay with five drives attached, all sitting on a shelf in my basement
(Magnetic drive bay cover not shown)

Something You Already Know

Everybody should have backups for the data they’d rather not lose. A wonderful advantage that the digital world has over the physical is that making copies of stuff is usually trivial. Can you copy your house? Your cat? Your left pinky toe? Of course not, but you can copy photos of all those things as many times as you care to, provided you have enough space and time.

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Garden Fence: Part One


How hard could it be?

A 3D model of my eventual fence that I designed in FreeCAD

Last year, I planted some beans, potatoes, and tomatoes in our garden. I made an uninspired attempt at a low fence, but this didn’t stop local wildlife from munching on the bean plants and ruining my crop. I vowed to build a vegetable fortress in the following year. Well, here we are. I can’t build the fence right now, but I sure can design it and be ready to go when the ground thaws.

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Humansort: A Tool for Sorting Items by Subjective Criteria


You can try the Web version of Humansort here, or you can try the CLI version and/or view the code here.

Motivating Problem

I have way more ideas than resources. At least a few times a day, I’ll think of something that “would be neat” if only I had the time and the right tools. Many years ago, I took the first step forward by writing my ideas down, but in a sense this was actually worse than nothing. Now I had a notebook full of many questionable ideas and probably a few good ones, which isn’t too different from a jar full of sand with a few delicious blueberries.

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Laser-Etched Birch Christmas Ornaments


I think handcrafted gifts often have the best ratio between emotional value and monetary value. The more love you can fit into a gift, the more the recipient will feel cared for when you give it to them. The absolute maximum possible value of this ratio is probably achievable only as a child — a handmade card is worth practically nothing to anyone except that child’s relatives, to whom it can be enormously valuable. Still, a handmade gift is usually well-received at any age, provided the quality is at least passable. This year, I found a solution that accounts for all this and makes use of some new tools I bought.

A pile of custom birch Christmas ornaments with trees and the current year etched onto them
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Two-Meter Ham Radio Antenna, Part Two



The antenna works. 🎉 Here it is:

Two-meter ground plane antenna
Hanging from the clothesline, as intended
Close up of the antenna connector, which has a brass housing and holes for the grounded elements
The solder joints turned out to be strong enough on their own.
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Two-Meter Ham Radio Antenna, Part One


What is Ham Radio?

Amateur radio (better-known as “ham” radio) is a global hobby for people who like to build and use radio systems. The ham radio community is almost as old as radio technology itself. Most nations have a governing body that sets the rules for all users of the radio frequency spectrum, which is important because the spectrum is a shared resource. A malicious or careless operator can easily cause harmful interference that makes parts of the spectrum unusable in their area. Ham radio operators are licensed by their nation’s governing body and are subject to their rules. In exchange for compliance with the rules, licensed operators may build, buy, or trade equipment and use it to access the RF spectrum for many different purposes. One common use of the radio hobby is for emergency communication. When other forms of communication are inoperable due to natural disaster or equipment failure, radio persists.

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