Compiling the AWS IoT Device SDK for Embedded C on FreeBSD

So for me it wasn’t obvious, but when you’re running make on the subscribe_publish_sample and getting a ton of warnings and errors like “exit 0” and “exec(exit) failed (No such file or directory)” and “Need an operator” and “Wildcard expanding .prevent_execution” it’s because FreeBSD uses a different make than Linux. They use Clang, whereas most Linux Makefiles are written for GCC.

So, what you have to do is explicitly run GNU Make, which is conveniently installed via pkg install gmake and run via gmake.

Voila! Suddenly it works again!

Laser-Cut Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings) Map

In order to laser-cut a map of middle earth for an art project, I first had to find a suitable vector. It seems a lot of the files online have disappeared. This one is simply a scan and vector trace of a rather-complete version of the original map, but extra painstaking work has been done to flatten the scans into one object so that it handles and imports properly (instead of simply being a solid fill layer of trees with white “negative space” layered on top.)

Screenshot from 2018-01-29 16-31-50

Time and Temperature Phone Numbers in Phoenix, Arizona and Santa Rosa, California

I got a bout of nostalgia the other day and decided that Phoenix (602, 480, 623) and Santa Rosa (707) needed Time and Temperature phone numbers again, in the retro style of the 90s and prior.

So if you need to hear a friendly robot voice, or want to know the weather or time, call:


602-362-8463 (602-362-TIME)

The code is up on Github to make your own with Twilio and Weather Underground:

If you’ve got any ideas for easter eggs or features, hit me up 🙂

Fixing IPv6-only issues in Ubuntu

Recently some local coffee shops have seemingly begun to use routers provided by the ISP which hand out IPv6 addresses. Nobody else seems to have issues with this (even my phone seems fine) but my laptop is unhappy with the situation.

Initial debugging via ifconfig shows that I am only getting IPv6 addresses (no IPv4 addresses on the WiFi interface) and apparently the ISP does not have any 6to4 gateways or carrier-grade NAT configured because I can access IPv6-enabled websites like and but not my own IPv4-only sites. Also obviously the ping, traceroute, and nslookup commands stop working as normal because of the ping6, traceroute6, and AAAA records instead of A records in nslookup.

Last time I came to this cafe I solved the problem by using some random 6to4 gateways online, which ended up working but was a massive pain.

This time, I poked around more (nothing seems to come up on Google) and ended up clicking the “Require IPv4 addressing for this connection to complete” and “Require IPv6 addressing for this connection to complete” checkboxes. That was the trick. Apparently Ubuntu gives up on finding addresses once it gets its first address, and apparently BOTH checkboxes need to be clicked on networks like this in order to actually work.

Chromium / Chrome 53 Users seeing Certificate Transparency errors this week (Nov 10 ish)

If you’re seeing random sites pop up with transparency warnings, it’s due to a new Chrome rollout of that requirement. However they’ve allegedly rolled it back, but Chromium users may be stuck on the strict version.


If You Give a User a WYSIWYG

Homemade WYSIWYG installations as part of homemade blog engines or CMSes remind me of that children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

If you give a user a blog_posts database table and three form fields, they’re going to want to format things… like bold, headline, paragraphs, and links.

If you give them a way to format things, they’re going to want it to be WYSIWYG.

If you give them a WYSIWYG, Continue reading

California DMV improvement suggestions

I left our first DMV appointment practically empty-handed despite being a 30-year-old college-educated web programmer, and spending probably two hours researching and preparing for our DMV visit.
If I got confused and forgot some necessary documents, I’m sure it’s nearly impossible for most people who don’t know what to do when links don’t take you straight to the right section or have trouble parsing complicated lists of requirements.
Check out Arizona’s MVD site as if you were a new driver or new resident… it’s not perfect, but it seems to do a quite good job hand-holding people through things. They even have a survey at the end of each request for feedback to improve their site. I never had to make two trips to an Arizona MVD, and have done everything 100% online for the last ~7 years there, so it’s pretty decent.
Though, I do greatly appreciate California’s appointment system (which could use clearer outdoor signage at least at Petaluma, by the way… I only saw the Appointment line after standing outside in the rain for fifteen minutes.) Continue reading