SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch AND Landing

A few weeks ago on December 21, 2015, SpaceX successfully launched one of their Falcon 9 rockets, delivered 11 satellites into orbit, and landed the rocket back on Earth, undamaged and ready to be used again. It marks the first time that a rocket has been sent into low Earth orbit 100 miles above Earth and successfully captured upon re-entry to be used again. Traditionally, rockets have been single-use equipment that crash land into the ocean. The ability to capture and reuse rockets is a great step forward in driving down the cost of space exploration by promoting re-usability.

Here is a picture posted to Twitter by SpaceX showing the launch and landing…only a few miles apart:

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing

Earlier this week on January 12, 2016, SpaceX posted a great recap video to YouTube:

Well done SpaceX! Keep up the great work! Good luck on your next launch this coming Sunday!

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Happy New Year 2016!

A new year is upon us, 2016, which means another attempt at resurrecting my blog. It has been quite a while since my last post about Chelsea winning the League Cup in March, but for me 2015 was far from quiet as I became a father for the second time, this one a baby girl who came over the summer. As any parent can attest one’s priorities are thrown out the window with a baby in the picture, as such my running greatly dovetailed last year and I have quite a way to go in getting myself marathon ready again.

Here’s to a new year and hopefully more blog posts!

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Chelsea Win League Cup 2015

I’m a little late to the party but I couldn’t not write about Chelsea winning the League Cup yesterday, now known as the Capital One Cup. We beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at Wembley Stadium in a game which was much more pleasant than our last outing against them on New Year’s Day. Goals from John Terry and Diego Costa (or perhaps a Spurs own goal) on either side of half-time coupled with a solid defensive performance proved more than enough in the end – including centerback Zurt Zouma filling in for Nemanja Matic in defensive midfield.

Not much more to say about this other than it feels great to finally win another trophy. It’s been nearly two years since we won the Europa League and for Chelsea that feels like an eternity. Barring a major collapse this should be the first of at least two trophies as we are comfortably atop the league right now, which will be a much sweeter trophy if and when it arrives.



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Fixing Ubuntu Boot Loader with Boot-Repair

As I am slowly adapting to the Linux world there are still occasions when I need to boot into the Windows partition of my hard drive to perform a task that I have yet to get working in Linux. Yesterday was one of those times and upon rebooting my computer today to go back into Ubuntu the boot loader was bypassed and Windows was directly loaded without any option to select which operating system to boot.

After a brief moment of staring blankly into the screen I recalled many resources online stating that when setting up a dual-boot with Windows 8 or 8.1 you need to disable fast startup in Windows and secure boot in UEFI. Fast startup is a feature whereby Windows saves some information to a file during shutdown, such as a registry cache or mounted partition state, which allows Windows to boot more quickly. This sounds great but it creates a problem for Ubuntu because the partition information is stored in Windows which prevents Linux from successfully mounting the partitions at startup. UEFI secure boot is a security feature that only allows boot loaders which are signed to the UEFI firmware to boot.

When installing Ubuntu I had read somewhere that secure boot didn’t always have to be disabled, some computers could work around the restriction. In my case, I disabled fast startup but not secure boot and everything worked fine. Well, until today, as I could no longer boot into Ubuntu. To alleviate this issue I needed to disable secure boot as well as fix my Ubuntu boot loader, GRUB.

Secure boot needs to be disabled from within UEFI, so upon rebooting my computer I had to hit the esc key to show the menu followed by F10 to load the UEFI configuration. Once the utility was loaded I navigated to the Secure Boot Configuration within the Security section. As you can see below it is from this prompt that you can disable secure boot. I changed Enable to Disable, then accepted the changes and rebooted. However, that was only step one as upon rebooting my computer booted back into Windows without showing any operating system selection options. I still needed to complete step two, which is to fix GRUB.

UEFI Secure Boot Configuration
UEFI Secure Boot Configuration

There is a tool called Boot-Repair which will fix GRUB and restore access to Ubuntu as it was before. This tool is run from within Ubuntu, which obviously I couldn’t boot into, so that meant I needed to boot to the Ubuntu Live CD. Once the Ubuntu live-session loaded I opened a Terminal window and followed the steps listed on the Ubuntu Boot-Repair community site (actual commands bolded below):

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair
 Simple tool to repair frequent boot problems.
 More info:
Press [ENTER] to continue or ctrl-c to cancel adding it
gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmpv5oz0cq5/secring.gpg' created
gpg: keyring `/tmp/tmpv5oz0cq5/pubring.gpg' created
gpg: requesting key 60D8DA0B from hkp server
gpg: /tmp/tmpv5oz0cq5/trustdb.gpg: trustdb created
gpg: key 60D8DA0B: public key "Launchpad PPA for YannUbuntu" imported
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg: imported: 1 (RSA: 1)
ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ sudo apt-get update
Ign cdrom://Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS _Trusty Tahr_ - Release amd64 (20140722.2) trusty InRelease
Ign cdrom://Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS _Trusty Tahr_ - Release amd64 (20140722.2) trusty/main Translation-en_US
Ign cdrom://Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS _Trusty Tahr_ - Release amd64 (20140722.2) trusty/main Translation-en
Ign cdrom://Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS _Trusty Tahr_ - Release amd64 (20140722.2) trusty/restricted Translation-en_US
Ign cdrom://Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS _Trusty Tahr_ - Release amd64 (20140722.2) trusty/restricted Translation-en
Ign trusty InRelease
Ign trusty-updates InRelease
Hit trusty Release.gpg
Ign trusty-security InRelease
Ign trusty InRelease
Get:1 trusty-updates Release.gpg [933 B]
Hit trusty Release
Get:2 trusty-updates Release [62.0 kB]
Get:3 trusty-security Release.gpg [933 B]
Get:4 trusty Release.gpg [316 B]
Get:5 trusty-security Release [62.0 kB]
Get:6 trusty Release [15.1 kB]
Hit trusty/main amd64 Packages
Hit trusty/restricted amd64 Packages
Hit trusty/main Translation-en
Get:7 trusty/main amd64 Packages [1,970 B]
Hit trusty/restricted Translation-en
Get:8 trusty-updates/main amd64 Packages [441 kB]
Get:9 trusty/main Translation-en [2,123 B]
Get:10 trusty-security/main amd64 Packages [214 kB]
Get:11 trusty-security/restricted amd64 Packages [8,875 B]
Get:12 trusty-security/main Translation-en [109 kB]
Get:13 trusty-security/restricted Translation-en [2,266 B]
Get:14 trusty-updates/restricted amd64 Packages [8,875 B]
Get:15 trusty-updates/main Translation-en [210 kB]
Get:16 trusty-updates/restricted Translation-en [2,266 B]
Ign trusty/main Translation-en_US
Ign trusty/restricted Translation-en_US
Fetched 1,141 kB in 3s (296 kB/s)
Reading package lists... Done
ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && boot-repair
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
boot-sav boot-sav-extra efibootmgr gawk glade2script libsigsegv2 pastebinit
Suggested packages:
mbr mdadm clean-ubiquity boot-info os-uninstaller gawk-doc
Recommended packages:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
boot-repair boot-sav boot-sav-extra efibootmgr gawk glade2script libsigsegv2
0 upgraded, 8 newly installed, 0 to remove and 338 not upgraded.
Need to get 1,401 kB/1,429 kB of archives.
After this operation, 5,370 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 trusty/main libsigsegv2 amd64 2.10-2 [15.0 kB]
Get:2 trusty/main gawk amd64 1:4.0.1+dfsg-2.1ubuntu2 [781 kB]
Get:3 trusty/main glade2script all 3.2.2~ppa47~saucy [42.3 kB]
Get:4 trusty/main boot-sav all 4ppa33 [392 kB]
Get:5 trusty/main pastebinit all 1.4-3 [14.9 kB]
Get:6 trusty/main boot-repair all 4ppa33 [11.6 kB]
Get:7 trusty/main boot-sav-extra all 4ppa33 [143 kB]
Fetched 1,401 kB in 7s (189 kB/s)
Selecting previously unselected package libsigsegv2:amd64.
(Reading database ... 169556 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../libsigsegv2_2.10-2_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking libsigsegv2:amd64 (2.10-2) ...
Setting up libsigsegv2:amd64 (2.10-2) ...
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.19-0ubuntu6) ...
Selecting previously unselected package gawk.
(Reading database ... 169564 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../gawk_1%3a4.0.1+dfsg-2.1ubuntu2_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking gawk (1:4.0.1+dfsg-2.1ubuntu2) ...
Selecting previously unselected package glade2script.
Preparing to unpack .../glade2script_3.2.2~ppa47~saucy_all.deb ...
Unpacking glade2script (3.2.2~ppa47~saucy) ...
Selecting previously unselected package boot-sav.
Preparing to unpack .../boot-sav_4ppa33_all.deb ...
Unpacking boot-sav (4ppa33) ...
Selecting previously unselected package boot-repair.
Preparing to unpack .../boot-repair_4ppa33_all.deb ...
Unpacking boot-repair (4ppa33) ...
Selecting previously unselected package boot-sav-extra.
Preparing to unpack .../boot-sav-extra_4ppa33_all.deb ...
Unpacking boot-sav-extra (4ppa33) ...
Selecting previously unselected package efibootmgr.
Preparing to unpack .../efibootmgr_0.5.4-7ubuntu1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking efibootmgr (0.5.4-7ubuntu1) ...
Selecting previously unselected package pastebinit.
Preparing to unpack .../pastebinit_1.4-3_all.deb ...
Unpacking pastebinit (1.4-3) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ( ...
Processing triggers for gnome-menus (3.10.1-0ubuntu2) ...
Processing triggers for desktop-file-utils (0.22-1ubuntu1) ...
Processing triggers for bamfdaemon (0.5.1+14.04.20140409-0ubuntu1) ...
Rebuilding /usr/share/applications/bamf-2.index...
Processing triggers for mime-support (3.54ubuntu1) ...
Setting up gawk (1:4.0.1+dfsg-2.1ubuntu2) ...
/usr/share/boot-sav/ line 33: hash: gksudo: not found
/usr/share/boot-sav/ line 35: hash: gksu: not found

Once the Terminal actions have completed the Boot-Repair application will launch. Select the Recommended repair option and the tool will run for a few minutes doing its thing. When it’s completed it will provide a URL that you can paste in the Ubuntu support forums if the problem was not fixed and allow others to see the log file to help with troubleshooting.


After that just close Boot-Repair, eject the Ubuntu Live CD, and reboot your system. And voila, this time the GRUB menu will be presented and you can select and boot into Ubuntu like usual.

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Spotify in Ubuntu

Those with a keen eye may have noticed Spotify running in the screen shot from my return to Linux post yesterday. As it turns out, installing Spotify in Linux (and I’m sure this may become a more common scenario as I delve deeper into Ubuntu) is not quite as straightforward as it is on Windows or Mac OS X. In fact, on their web site Spotify list Windows and Mac as the only supported platforms. However, all is not lost, as there are a few different ways to get Spotify running in Linux.

The first way is to use the Spotify Web Player, which provides a browser-based interface that allows you to run Spotify in all its glory without installing the application, thus removing any dependency on what operating system is used. All you need to do is navigate to and login to start listening.

If you don’t fancy the web player and want to actually install the application in Linux, Spotify does provide a Spotify for Linux preview build, which basically means they do their best to provide an application for use in Linux but it’s not officially supported so it may be buggy and they’re not responsible if it doesn’t work. That said, I’ve been using it for a little while now and have not had any issues whatsoever. It works as flawlessly as on Windows or Mac. The installation was pretty straightforward, the preview web page has some Terminal instructions which worked a charm – the commands below entered in sequence:

jon@holato:~$ sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

When gedit opens then add the Spotify repository to the file and save:

deb stable non-free

sources.list (-etc-apt) - gedit
sources.list (-etc-apt) – gedit
jon@holato:~$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 94558F59
jon@holato:~$ sudo apt-get update
jon@holato:~$ sudo apt-get install spotify-client

And that’s it. Spotify will be installed and in no time you’ll be able to launch and run it locally on your Linux desktop.

The final way to get Spotify running under Linux is to use Wine, and I must confess I don’t know much about this method at all however I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it, but essentially it’s a program that allows applications designed for Windows to run on Unix-based operating systems.

And those are some of the various ways to run Spotify in Linux. Personally I prefer the second approach of installing the preview build but to each their own. The most important thing is that it works, and my dependency on Windows or Mac is reduced as one of my favorite, everyday programs works great in Ubuntu.

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My Return to Linux with Ubuntu 14.04

It’s been seven years and seven major releases of Ubuntu since my last foray into Linux a la Ubuntu 7.10. During that time I’ve been a Mac OS X user at home and a Windows user in the workplace. While I don’t really have a choice when it comes to the workplace, Mac OS X has been really convenient at home as my wife and I have become deeply entrenched in the Apple world of iPhones, iPads, iTunes, iEverything. There was a brief stint in 2012 when I was an Android user for several months but I was eventually wooed back to the iPhone when the shiny, new iPhone 5 was released – I also missed the apps from the App Store (I used some obscure ones at the time related to following Chelsea FC which were not available for Android).

Despite being very much an Apple man for much of the past decade, my inner geek has always quietly persisted under the radar, and recently I’ve been lured back into trying Linux, particularly as I work to grow my son’s interest in science; there are a ton of free apps in the Ubuntu ecosystem which are very exciting. I also want to use this Linux machine as sort of a centralized storage location. One of the problems we faced on our Macbook Pro (which has amazingly lasted 6 years and still going…though not as strongly as it once did) was that the storage was eclipsed years ago and it’s been a constant struggle of backing up and purging data. One of my goals for this Linux machine is to store all of our family photos and videos in a common location which can also be shared over our home network and streamed from. We have Samsung Smart TVs which can directly stream from computers if setup correctly.

I’m currently in some what of a test drive mode. I partitioned a small section of my 2 TB hard drive to experiment with Ubuntu in a dual-boot setup with the Windows 8.1 that came pre-installed for a while and make sure it will meet all of my long term needs. So far so good with Ubuntu though admittedly it has not been all that long yet. I plan to write more posts on my experience with Ubuntu and actions I may need to take to get the system working as I need it to.

Here are some resources I used to help in getting the dual-boot with Windows working properly:

And here is a screen shot of my dual screen Ubuntu desktop:

Ubuntu 14.04 Screenshot from 2015-02-16 21:40:12
Ubuntu 14.04 Screenshot from 2015-02-16 21:40:12

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Eden Hazard Signs New 5.5 Year Deal With Chelsea FC

It’s been a long time coming (though not as long as it has been since my last post regarding Chelsea) and nothing that we should have been worried about, if our beloved manager Jose Mourinho is to be taken at his word, but at last our young superstar Eden Hazard has finally put pen to paper on a new deal that will keep him at Chelsea until 2020.

Eden Hazard signs new Chelsea deal
Eden Hazard signs new Chelsea deal

I was elated when I heard the news earlier today. Even with the addition of Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas this season, I still feel that Hazard is our most key player. He is arguably the best player in the premier league, even if his goal-scoring stats aren’t as prolific as others. You hear other players commending Hazard as the best player they have played against and I think it means a lot more hearing it from other players than reading a stats table.

Since joining Chelsea in 2012 he has matured his game quite a bit, and I look forward to watching his progression continue for many years to come and hope that one day he will lift the Ballon d’Or while still in a Chelsea shirt. Speaking of which, now I can get Hazard 10 jerseys for the family. :)

Eden Hazard Chelsea Home Jersey 2014-2015
Eden Hazard Chelsea Home Jersey 2014-2015

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ISS Above Review

A few weeks back during the Christmas holidays one of the people I follow on Twitter tweeted about something called ISS Above that flashed like crazy when the space station flew overhead which prompted her to go outside and wave to the astronauts with her kids. As someone who is trying to nurture my own child’s imagination and interest in science I was immediately hooked and I quickly found myself on the ISSAbove web site learning more about what exactly this device was (and how amazing it is) and how I could get one myself. The web site is full of great information about how the project started as a kickstarter, details on the project, how you can purchase one, and much more. I ordered one on New Year’s Eve and it arrived a few days later.

The device is rather simple, it’s a Raspberry Pi mini-computer with a PiGlow attached running custom software written in Python by the creator. It can be purchased as either an all-in-one package or the software alone if you already have the requisite hardware. Being new to the Raspberry Pi world I opted for the all-in-one package which was marketed as a “just open up the box and plug it in” solution.

Well, I’m happy to say that the marketing lived up to the hype! When my ISS Above arrived it was accompanied by some simple instructions which laid out exactly what to do and some basic troubleshooting steps if any unforeseen issues arose. Within a matter of minutes the device was up and running and projecting a beautiful HD image of the Earth as seen from the international space station.

The ISSAbove performs several actions, for one as just mentioned it live streams HD quality video from the space station when available. It also offers a built in web server that gives information about future overhead passes of the ISS, and engages the PiGlow to perform a light show depending on the duration until the next ISS flyover. One of my favorite things it does is actually twofold: 1) it tweets the space station twitter account whenever the ISS is flying nearby over your location, and 2) it posts a WordPress blog post to the site. Both of these are customizable on your device and I am hoping to write future blog posts on customizing these two features.

Below are some pictures of this amazing little device, which has not only opened up my toddler’s eyes to space but also rekindled my excitement. I would strongly recommend learning more on the official ISS Above web site and getting your own.

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Philadelphia Marathon 2014

It’s been a while since my last post but I’ve been far from inactive. In fact, last year I hit a new annual high in terms of mileage logged with 1,315 miles. In my Atlantic City Marathon 2013 review I mentioned that I was on the lookout for my next marathon. As it turns out that next marathon was the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23, 2014.

I wrote about my Philadelphia Marathon experience for my friend’s fitness blog if you’re interested in my race recap. In short, it was another tremendous life experience akin to my first marathon, and I loved the big city marathon feeling in contrast to the smaller marathon experience from Atlantic City, and definitely recommend others to consider doing a larger race if they have not yet done so.

Here is a picture of my wife and I shortly after the race:

Post-Philadelphia Marathon

Now onto the next, perhaps this one?


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David Luiz Off To PSG

Over the past week or so there’s been a lot of speculation about David Luiz moving to Barcelona or even Bayern Munich as part of a player + cash deal for Mario Mandzukic, but it will be Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) where he’s shipping off to next season. The terms agreed between Chelsea and PSG have not be officially publicized, however many news sources are claiming a fee of £50 million. If true, this would make David Luiz the most expensive defender in world football history, a record currently held by Thiago Silva (Luiz’s Brazilian center back partner for the national team) who is also currently at PSG. 

While David Luiz has been one of my favorite Chelsea players due to his tremendous personality, leadership and the camaraderie he fosters, this amount of money is simply way too good to pass up. £50 million for Luiz represents a fantastic profit, especially since he hasn’t been a guaranteed starter under Jose Mourinho. That kind of money will allow us to easily purchase a striker like Diego Costa, and a backup, while still complying with UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations. 

Thanks for all the memories David Luiz. I wish you the best of luck at PSG and will never forget the contribution you made to the best night in Chelsea’s history.


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