My cedar plank salmon experiment

I promised I would share with you all of my projects. Most of them are going to be of a technical nature but I also enjoy cooking. I have had cedar plank salmon at restaurants before but decided I wanted to try my own hand at it. I love getting creative with cooking and finding new ways to make foods both tasty and original.

As the name implies I got myself some cedar planks to use on my gas grill. This method could be used on coal based grills too but I wanted to focus on the cedar flavor and adding that coal smoke taste in my opinion would be too much. To further spice things up I made my own marinade. Not required you could just season and add some butter but I wanted to take it a step further. What did I use for the marinade you might ask? Well I went with a Spanish theme, using tequila and Mojo marinade you can find in the Hispanic section of your local grocer. Here is what I used for my creation. 

You will see that I used tequila as well as chili oil a splash of lime juice and Badia’s complete seasoning. I would say 65 percent of the marinade was the Mojo, with about 3 shots of tequila a splash of the lemon and a touch of chili oil to add a bit of spice. Then I  added a pretty liberal amount of the complete seasoning to it, I did not measure but would venture to say more than a tablespoon, probably closer to two. Let it marinade for about 45 minutes, which is perfect since you need to soak the cedar plank in water for at least one hour. Once I was done with that I was ready to get started.

After removing it from the marinade I sprinkled a bit of this on the salmon as well as a touch of cayenne pepper. As you see I like spicy foods, the chili oil would probably be enough if you are not a fan of spice. Let the grill preheat to about 350 to 400 degrees and the salmon to get to room temperature. I grilled mine for 30 minutes. Be sure to flip sides at 15 and add some slivers of unsalted butter to melt into the fish. Cooking times may vary depending on size of your fillets and grill temperature, keep an eye on it and adjust accordingly.

I also made my own home made stir fry veggies to pair with this. You can either buy pre-cut up stir fry mixes at your local grocer to save time, or hand pick the veggies you want. I did both, I started with a pre-cut up mix and added additional peppers and onions to the mix. This is where you get to make it what you want and add to your desire. I suggest grapeseed oil as it is good for high heat cooking and anything you do in a wok will be at high heat. For the sauce again I made my own, a mixture of chili oil, garlic, some general tso’s stir fry sauce, and a splash of soy sauce. I have also used teriyaki and sweet and sour sauces to great effect. Check out the Asian section at your grocer, they have all kinds of sauces to try.

stir fry

Since I am sure everyone is curious, this is the final product, I also made some au gratin potato’s  to go with it but those were just out of a box, nothing fancy. If you have any questions or want to try this yourself feel free to comment. I would love to hear other great ideas. Lets get to grilling. 




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The Wasteland has moved

I am sorry for the lack of content but I have truly been busy since the end of the year. Starting off with a death in the family right after Christmas and now a move. I assure you now that things are starting to fall into place I will be more active and provide more content. Never fear I have not forgotten my little project I have just had a lot on my proverbial plate. 

As I have stated I have moved. I am now on a lakeside property in a small South central Florida town. You may have noticed that the map and weather are now for Lake Placid. Where the hell is that you might ask? Isn’t that a ski resort in New York is often another comment I receive. Well as far as the ski resort that is an amusing story. If you look at the history of the town you will discover it has had many names in the past. The final one that stuck was Lake Placid and was renamed by the inventor of the Dewey Decimal system himself Dr. Melvil Dewey. I knew that it was supposed to be the ski resort of the south and that the great depression played its hand in that never coming to be. However I was unaware that the halting of construction of US 27 due to the second world war was a factor.

Why would a thirty-something year old want to move to a sleepy little retirement town? Well trust me it was not an easy decision. But I could not let my grandfathers home go, way too many childhood memories here. Also the place is just beautiful, and my parents deemed the house too small for them so I decided to rent it from them so we can keep it. I will share a few photos, I think you will understand my decision.

This is my backyard, the view as you step out the back door.

The sunsets here are absolutely breathtaking. The boat is not mine, was letting the neighbor use mine to store his boat while he was repairing damages from Irma. As you can see my dock took a beating as well.

One last picture at dusk, downright amazing if you ask me.

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The Last Frontier back online

I know it has been quite awhile since I have posted. Moving forward I plan to be more active on this blog and try to find more content to post. I am happy to announce that The Last Frontier forums are now back open. Keeping my promise to never use commercial or closed source code the forums are powered by phpBB. This is entirely open source software. It might lack a few features of commercial solutions like vbulletin or IPBoard but is a solid platform with all of the most important features.

I welcome all that find this to join, it is free and the server will always remain private. No fears of adware, spyware, or selling your data to third parties. The goal of this server is to expand my knowledge and create something useful to others in the process. If you have not already noticed this entire site is being run from my old laptop. Myself I found that amusing, but I hate to let hardware go to waste when it could serve a purpose. Let’s give my old laptop some work and create a fun and even educational community. 

I have also set up my own NextCloud Server. What is NextCloud you might ask? Simply put it is your own “Dropbox” or “OneDrive” that you control entirely. I love Dropbox, but refuse to use it for anything personal since you are handing the data to essentially an unknown third party. With this software that is entirely open source I can create my own and manage it fully. I know exactly where the data is being stored and who has access to it. To me that is huge, I may lack the bandwidth of the major players but they can not give me that level of privacy.

If you are interested in a box of your own on this server let me know. I can not open this to the public, my laptop lacks the disk space to do that. Those that are interested comment on this post or email me directly. You can even get desktop clients and mobile clients for free so you can take your data anywhere you go. I must warn you that bandwidth is limited, so keep the file sizes down or be patient with downloads. Someday I will have the ability to move The Wasteland to a better connection but for now we have to work with what I have.  That is all for now, stay tuned I do plan to make this blog more active with content after the holidays.

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Hardening SSH & using Fail2ban

Sorry about the lack of content, since the storm I have been quite busy with work and other projects. I assure you that I will be more active on this blog in the future. Today I wish to introduce you to Fail2Ban. What is Fail2ban you may ask? Simply put it is software that helps reduce the risk of brute-force attacks. Anyone that has run a server before understands that the risk is real and you must prepare accordingly. Choosing to ignore this risk is unwise and can lead to your server being compromised. 

How exactly does fail2ban work you might ask? It monitors your log files for failed attempts at SSH or any service that requires authentication. Setting it up is easy, I will include two guides here and here. If you have any trouble setting this up you can also comment on this post. If you don’t like that send me an email here. Once configured it will monitor your /var/log/secure file for failed login attempts. You can easily configure the amount of attempts as well as the duration of the ban. The Wasteland is set for 5 failed attempts with a full day ban issued to offenders. Some may go for shorter bans, others may want less failed attempts before the ban. My only suggestion is to avoid setting the failed attempts to just one. 

A good administrator knows this is only the first step in securing SSH on your server. The easiest and most important being using a strong password. I will provide a couple of generator sites here and here. If you are running a highly sensitive server you should consider using multi-factor authentication. The most common method for this would be RSA_SecurID, I have several for work. This is not a free option however and I aim to keep the Wasteland open source. For me using a strong password, Fail2ban and a few of these suggestions is sufficient. I highly recommend disabling direct root login. A good majority of attackers will be trying for root so denying direct root access just seems logical. You can quickly switch to root from any user account anyway. One more tip, make that user account unique, avoid just using your first name or a dictionary word. 

Some may wish to take it a step further. I can confirm that a good majority of the attacks I receive are from Chinese and Russian hosts. For the small time blogger like me you might consider just blocking all hosts from those regions. If you have no need to do business with China you can just block all hosts from them in your firewall. This may not be a viable solution though if you need to conduct business with that part of the world. I do not, I don’t speak Mandarin nor do I have any current business interests there. The Wasteland is blocking all Chinese hosts at the firewall level. Russia is also famous for their less than savory activities on the internet. For those interested I will place links to sites that have countries broken down by their assigned IP blocks. I like this one best but found another worthy site to share. 

There you have it, you can still leave SSH open in your firewall and not have to fret about the threat of brute-force attacks. I hope you find this useful and as always feel free to comment with any questions or points I may have left out. 

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Retro Gaming the DIY way with RetroPie

With Today’s release of the SNES Classic, retro gaming is once again in the spotlight. In typical Nintendo fashion availability is limited to the point that people are camping out in order to secure one on launch day. I too enjoy classic gaming, but have no desire to wade through crowds or camp out. For those of us more sane people I present to you the RetroPie. What exactly is a RetroPie you might ask? The short answer is that it a multi-platform emulator built using the Raspberry Pi device. What is a Raspberry Pi you may wonder? Simply put it is a low cost computing platform that was aimed at college students. It’s goal was to provide a low cost platform for students to learn how to program. 

The great thing about the Raspberry Pi is that it is a flexible platform. Not only can you make a game emulator but you can do so much more. The amount of projects you can undertake is almost endless. I will provide a few more links here is one, another can be found here, and lastly here. This appeals to me greatly I have already built a media center box that works just as well if not better than any commercial device like a Roku. I plan to try some of the other projects as well and will share my results here on The Wasteland. So lets say you get sick of gaming, well with the SNES classic that is a one trick pony. The Raspberry Pi is way more flexible as you can see. Possibilities are almost endless, if you can imagine it, you can probably do it. 

So now that I have your attention you may ask how do I build one for myself? Do I need to be an electrical engineer or computer programmer to do this? No you do not, with a few basic tools and reading skills almost anyone can accomplish this project. First you will need to the the parts, luckily you can find kits with everything you need at most retailers including Amazon. For someone like me I would suggest getting a basic kit which comes with the board, power supply and case. If you want a one stop shop they do sell  complete kits that come with all the parts you will need. I personally caution against this, and suggest you find your own controllers at minimum. We all know that a quality controller can make or break your gaming experience. Read reviews first then select the one that fits you best.  You will be happy to know that you can even get NES and SNES cases to give your project that authentic feel. I bet the casual fan would never know the difference between this and the commercial units shipped by Nintendo. 

Now that you have all the parts it is time to get building, I will link the official setup guide here. It is a fairly simple setup though you will need to make sure you have a computer with an SD card reader as well as Win32 Disk Imager. This is needed to write the image to the SD card. Some may come with this but if not you can get it there. If you have any questions that the guide or the video I will link below can not answer feel free to leave me a comment. If you like you can even send me an email as well. I am always happy to help someone with their projects. The more we share the more we learn and that is always a good thing. That is all for now, lets get to building our RetroPie and enjoy those classic games we grew up with. For the younger crowds come experience gaming of the past, I think you will find many of these games quite rewarding. 

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