willem.com

Hacking on Willem's Blog

Rescuing files from a broken harddisk

Make backups to be safe rather than sorry!

Oct. 16, 2018
Yesterday I helped a young woman with her broken computer containing precious photos, could I safe them?

Yesterday a young woman brought me her laptop, it didn't start anymore and it only showed an error message. It turned out to be a broken harddisk. It startled her when I told her that all data on the disk was lost. She told me it contained precious photos of her pregnancy and young child. What could I do?

Helping people with free software

Installing Debian GNU/Linux on an old laptop

July 20, 2018
This week I helped a man with repairing and reinstalling his computer with Debian GNU/Linux.

This week a man brought his laptop to the community centre where I help people with computer problems as volunteer. The old laptop wouldn't start anymore and had to be reinstalled. Instead of Windows, I installed a free operating system. I think it is important to tell you how and why I did it.

Removing paint from a bike frame

Uncover the aluminium with chemicals and sanding paper

June 9, 2018
Using dichloromethane and sanding paper I removed the paint from my bike frame to create a minimal, raw aluminium look.

There is beauty in raw, unfinished material that is often hidden with superfluous layers of paint. I like things to be true to the nature of the material. My bike was painted black - not bad - but I wondered what it really looked like from a material point of view.

Creating a minimal iPhone stand

Routing oak wood for a custom fit

June 2, 2018
Today I created a minimal iPhone stand from oak wood. I used a single piece of wood to get it done.

Today I created a minimal iPhone stand from oak wood. While it's much faster to buy one online, I wanted one to fit my phone horizontally, with its case on. I like minimal design, so I opted to machine a single piece of wood to get it done.

Off the grid: Working on 100% renewable energy

Collecting, storing and using solar electricity to power my phone, computer and wearables

Apr. 30, 2018
Learning from powering my personal devices using nothing but self generated electricity using a solar panel and power banks.

For the past 10 days I have powered my personal electronic devices (phone, computer, wearables) using nothing but energy collected using a small solar panel. I disconnected all grid-connected chargers. I hoped that by going off the grid, even in such a small way, I would gain insights that enable me to save energy (and money).

Cyber security: 5 easy tips to protect your server against hackers

Server hardening best practices for Windows and Linux

Mar. 10, 2018
These 5 practical cyber security measures will improve the safety of server, website and data.

This week one of my clients was hacked and asked me for emergency assistance to help secure their server infrastructure. It was a web server that ran WordPress websites on Apache (with PHP/MySQL), including a few webshops with customer data. This hack could easily have been prevented with the following best practices, is your server secure?

From tree to table

Designing and creating a night stand

Oct. 23, 2017
Creating a night stand from a raw slab of chestnut wood.

Right next to the house were I was born there was this chestnut tree, sadly it died one and a half year ago. When it was taken down, my brother saved me a slab of wood. I intended to create something from it, a nice "do it yourself" adventure, worthy of a blog post!

Saving a MacBook Air with exploded battery

Don’t try this at home - but I did

Sep. 14, 2017
Saving a MacBook Air with a swollen battery pack.

Last night I had a nasty surprise: my original MacBook Air was swollen due to an exploded battery. I immediately had to take action, for reasons of safety and to preserve this piece of modern computer history. Don’t try this at home, but if you do... read along for some practical tips.

Clouds below my floor

Building a little datacenter in my basement

Aug. 31, 2017
Building a little datacenter in my basement utilising a very fast internet connection.

At my home I have this crazy fast optical internet connection. It is a 600MB up and down fibre connection which directly arrives in my home (no copper cables involved). It's like a private internet highway. Reason enough to find out if I could do something to make better use of all this speedy fiber galore...

The day I killed my LAN

Turned off my local network and went 4G only

July 31, 2017
I killed my office LAN and went 4G only. Saves a lot of clutter, energy and money.

Today I called my provider to quit my office's ADSL internet subscription, I don't need it anymore. I have turned off my local area network and switched my workflow onto mobile internet only. The simplicity and savings actually surprised me so much, that I made blog post for it.

Repairing a Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP

Chip surgery to play classic Zelda

Mar. 26, 2017
Reparing an old Nintendo Gameboy Advance to play classic Zelda again.

This month Nintendo released the Switch with Zelda "Breath of the Wild". The new console received positive reviews. The new Zelda game is amazing and can be played on-the-go, thanks to the portability of the Nintendo Switch. But it its hardly the first Nintendo device that features the mythical kingdom of Hyrule with Link and princess Zelda. I found an old Gameboy Advance, perfect for playing classic Zelda games... but it was in need for repair!

Programming on Apple Watch

Serious about crazy experiments

Feb. 16, 2017
Programming with VIM over SSH on Apple Watch using a bluetooth keyboard

Over the past years I have been no stranger to crazy experiments, but this time I really wanted to push it into the extreme: programming on an Apple Watch. Would it be possible to actually write code on such a tiny device? Why even bother? This post is about the case for crazy experiments, and why you should try too!

Batavus Champion bike from 1978

restoring retro glory with some help from the Internet

Sep. 3, 2016
Restore the retro glory of an old bike from the 70s using the internet.

Almost a year ago I bought an old steel racing bike from 1978. I wanted to figure out if using a bike to commute worked for me. It did! I used it to ride more than 1000KM before I decided to get a modern road bike. Now, almost a year later, I decided to put the powers of the internet into good use: to bring the bike back to its retro glory!

Building the blog... in style!

Developing on a 20-year old computer with 16MB RAM and Windows 98

June 23, 2016
Find out if it is possible to turn a computer from the 90s into a modern development machine.

One must be a bit crazy to come up with the idea to build a blog (as in: actual programming) on an old 486 laptop with just 16MB RAM. I happen to be that crazy: I took my very first laptop from the 90s and decided to find out if it was possible to turn it into a development machine.

All blog posts
sanding again
sanding again
Front fork wrapped in plastic bag
Front fork wrapped in plastic bag
Retro bike pumps are available in different colours and sizes - I found an fitting chrome one from Italy!
Retro bike pumps are available in different colours and sizes - I found an fitting chrome one from Italy!
Creating bootable USB-drive for installation
Creating bootable USB-drive for installation
Graphs from the connection monitoring system (from the real datacenter) cleary show when I tested my little server
Graphs from the connection monitoring system (from the real datacenter) cleary show when I tested my little server
Result on garden table
Result on garden table
The Gameboy Advance SP from the inside
The Gameboy Advance SP from the inside
Schindelhauer steer mounted on my aluminium bike
Schindelhauer steer mounted on my aluminium bike
With all the black filthy grease removed, the retro orange really shines in combination with the metal front chain discs
With all the black filthy grease removed, the retro orange really shines in combination with the metal front chain discs
Downloading Debian
Downloading Debian
Thank you Ebay: a period correct Hurret rear derailleur
Thank you Ebay: a period correct Hurret rear derailleur
Prototype from spruce wood to determine the routing profile
Prototype from spruce wood to determine the routing profile
Feeling mobile: this blog post was created using an iPhone, a keyboard and some coffee! No PC!
Feeling mobile: this blog post was created using an iPhone, a keyboard and some coffee! No PC!
The data centre is where your server lives. Even though it may be physically secure, you should check upon its software too!
The data centre is where your server lives. Even though it may be physically secure, you should check upon its software too!
The smartphone case fits perfectly
The smartphone case fits perfectly
Clouds below my floor: my little basement datacenter.
Clouds below my floor: my little basement datacenter.
Drilling holes for the wooden pins
Drilling holes for the wooden pins
Using terminal commands to mount a disk under Debian GNU/Linux
Using terminal commands to mount a disk under Debian GNU/Linux

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