Life Hacking with Todoist (And Clockwise)

If your brain has a hard time holding information like mine does, you might be helped by using something like Todoist. Work suggested this as an option among many other tools that I have tried over the years. (OmniFocus, Asana, Monday, Wunderlist, Evernote, Things) Each tool has been just fine, but I find this one fits me best. Work covers the costs of any productivity tools we use, so it was a no brainer to try a bunch out.

I use Todoist for more than just work, it’s how I manage my busy life and continue moving forward across multiple domains. I am cursed with being extremely hard on myself, and I get restless if I am not doing things that matter. I don’t mean being busy. I mean making the most of my time here and investing in eternal things. Because I can’t hold stuff in my memory for very long, a tool like Todoist is essential.

What I like about Todoist is that it’s more than a list manager, it’s also more than a taskboard (like Jira), it integrates with Fantastical and Google Calendar and pairs really well with Clockwise. If you are not using Clockwise, it’s a life changer!

Here is an example of some of my projects. As you can see I have work stuff in there as well as my kids (the blacked out bits are the names of my kids), health, my Infosec studying, and more.

I cut the list off for privacy, but you get the idea. Within each of these project you can manage a list or a project board. Here is an example of what I use or the kids. Each of these sections can then contain a list with to do items. These can also be recurring.

Here is an example of recurring items within a task board.

Todoist can be used on your computer, pad, phone, etc. It’s a great app and really easy to you. It’s a nice bit of freedom to not have to hold all this info in. There is also an inbox where you can quickly add items what you can mark off or organize later.

Give a try! I think you might like it.

Synology Cloud Backup

Almost 3TB of data has accumulated on my Synology NAS. Even though it’s set to RAID 5, I still worry about data loss. The solution was to use a 3-2-1 setup. (The 3-2-1 backup strategy simply states that you should have 3 copies of your data (your production data and 2 backup copies) on two different media (disk and tape) with one copy off-site for disaster recovery) Which means two local copies and an offsite 3rd copy. To accomplish this I keep the working files on my mac, backup to an external Hard Drive, which for me are a few Lacie drives, as well as backed up to my Synology NAS. The final step is to backup to the cloud.

Synology makes this really easy. You can load an App on the Synology Device which runs it’s own OS called Disk Manager. The app is called Hyper Backup. Once that’s installed, you can then backup easily to a third party. There are quite a few to choose from, I chose Backblaze (B2) based on a recommendation from a Developer I work with at Automattic. It’s basically an S3 bucket. They have a very easy to follow guide that walks your through the whole setup. I would just add to their guide that you need to change the version from 2 to 4. Without that change, your Synology Device won’t be able to connect to the Backblaze to fetch the bucket instance.

You can configure the backup to run when you want. I have mine set for 2AM when I know that none of my family will be online gaming, browsing or streaming. I did enable encryption on both ends. Backblaze has their own proprietary key for server side encryption. Synology allows you to set an encryption on the client side as well.

And that’s it. I am now configured for 3-2-1 and should be able to recover data even if both local copies fail due to natural disaster, hacking, etc. I have about a dozen clients for my videography business and all their files, both post production and raw files are on my NAS. I don’t want to lose files.

Moving my number from AT&T to Mint

How do I move my number from AT&T to another carrier?

Recently we moved from AT&T to Mint Mobile and it was a learning experience. The steps are actually crystal clear on the Mint side of things, and their App is brilliant. Not just from a UX point of view, it actually works very well and does what you want it to.

Woah, woah, I am not a liar. Let’s just all calm down. I mean it, it really does work, and the experience is enjoyable, I have done it 6 times now. I promise, it’s going to work. The difficult part is AT&T. But by the 4th time, I had it figured out and it was easy.

I am not going to bash AT&T. Simply, their service is solid, but their customer support is less than supportive. Case in point, I was handed off to several different agents, both in live chat and actual phone calls (ewwww), and no one gave me clear steps to move my number from AT&T to Mint (or any other carrier). In the end it was actually pretty simple.

You can get a new number with Mint, which is so easy it seems unreal. You can also transfer your current number, which I wanted to do for myself, my wife and several of my children. Some of the kids wanted new numbers, but most wanted to keep their original numbers.

Here are the steps to transfer your number.

  1. Contact AT&T. Sorry, you have to actually communicate with them, as task that should be fully automated requires this manual step. It’s because they want to keep you with them, and the sales pitch ensues. My wife did this step and she was so frustrated. She said “no I don’t want to stay with AT&T” many, many times. Like a 5 minute call took an hour. In the end the agent was upset with my wife and showed it. Which is not good, customer support should not act that way, but hey, this is one of the reasons we wanted out. You need ask them to release your SIM lock. You will have to own your phone to do this, which means you are not making payments on the phone. Other than that, they have to release your SIM lock.
  2. You will know the above step is complete and your SIM Lock has been released when your view your phone’s settings and see the text No SIM Restrictions or similar. For example on an iPhone that setting is under General → About then scroll down to Carrier Lock. It should say No SIM Restrictions if successful. This is the most painful part, after this it’s smooth sailing.
  3. You will want to have your Mint App downloaded and installed on your phone. That can be your new phone or your current phone if not using a new phone. One of the steps will ask you if you want to keep your number. You say “yes” and then are asked to provide several pieces of information. Your AT&T account number and your pin are among the necessary bits. That PIN number is not the number you use at AT&T for your account. This is your number transfer request PIN.
  4. To request a number transfer you will dial *7678 using the phone part of your phone. I know right? Who uses the phone on their phone? The automated voice on the line will ask you for your AT&T PIN. I know, super confusing, this is your account pin, a 4 digit number you have with AT&T. Once you do that, AT&T will send you a text with a 6 digit PIN. PIN, PIN, PIN, I feel like I am saying PIN a lot.
  5. Go back to the Mint App and plug that PIN number (the 6 digit one from the text) in and submit the request. It will probably fail. That’s ok. You will get an additional text from AT&T either stating that you are transferring your number and to call if you did not, or you will get one that says to respond with “yes” if you initiated the transfer request. Obviously you say yes, unless you want to really mess things up because you want more drama and difficulty. Once that’s done, submit the request again through the Mint app. It will go through this time.
  6. You will be notified pretty quickly that your number was successfully transferred. That comes in a text from AT&T saying they are sad to see you go. Sorry AT&T, that sorrow is one way only. Your service in the top corner of your phone screen will say MINT and your device will disappear from your AT&T account. Yay!

That’s it! You are free from AT&T. Congratulations! Grab some Aviation Gin and enjoy being a part of the Ryan Reynolds family.

I have been using Mint for 2 weeks now and so far it’s good. I know it’s T-MOBILE which was almost enough to make me not move forward, but with 11 of us in the family, the savings really drove the decision. I would suggest giving it a try. You can run a free trial on your current phone and switch between two services.

I hope this was useful. If it was, think about using my Mint referral code. 🙂

Loupedeck Live

This tool is a game changer all around. My intent was was to make video editing in Premier easier, but it does so much more! As you can see here, there is a lot you can do with Premier and the Loupedeck Live. There are several pages already configured. Instead of going over them all, I’ll just point you to YouTube where there are lots and lots of helpful videos.

This model is not quite as expansive as the Loupedeck CT which is several hundred dollars more, but it’s still amazing and meets all my needs.

So far it’s been a great help and makes editing much easier. I am pleasantly surprised at how well this works as a workflow hack above and beyond video editing. It works with a ton if applications, but what I have found really cool is the ability to create my own screens and launch work related tools and sites. I have ZenDesk, Klaus, Alfred, Zoom, Slack, and more all ready to go at the touch of a button. But it can also “run” scripts and more. Lots of workflows and their uses on YouTube as well.

This is going to be one of those tools I find myself leaning on a lot and will probably travel with it as well.

I’ll update this post after a few weeks of use.

7 Years

Today marks 7 years at Automattic. The 4 were spent in WooCommerce and the last 3 have been in WordPress VIP. I turned 7 years old while at the VIP Grand Meetup here in Denver. (I’ll update this post with photos when I get home and settled.) I am so thankful to be working with such amazing and smart people on cutting edge technology that is used by 43% of the web. Here is to 7 more!

Update October 30th 2022

The Anniversary headphones came and they are awesome!

Updating The Raspberry Pi Cluster

Hullo MicroK8s!

Awhile back the Raspberry Pi cluster was born. At the time, the best thing to run seemed to be Rancher Labs K3s. But soon after I installed K3s, Rancher released a new version and with this new version a lot of things changed, and what I had installed was deprecated. I could no longer update packages. Argh!

So …. I recently reinstalled the entire cluster using MicroK8s. I really like this version of K8s and I am having a lot of fun playing around with it. Currently trying to get an ELK stack to work, which has been challenging and frustrating. I am getting a huge kick out of the dashboard. How cool is this?

32 CPU’s, almost 600 GB of RAM from 8 nodes. Here are the nodes in the cluster and the dashboard, which was really easy to install, it was a simple command to enable it as a plugin.

I’ll try and post an update when I get ELK configured. Stay tuned!

Antisyphon & Wild West Hackin’ Fest


I just finished the 4 day course titled Active Defense & Cyber Deception through Antisyphon, and it was excellent! This was one of the Pay What You Can classes that they offer, which made it affordable for me as a noob. The class did start to get a bit over my head, but that does not mean it was not super valuable. I now know what I don’t know.

All the reading I have done, all the videos I have watched and all the studying via INE, TryHackMe and HackTheBox has been very beneficial. But they all lack real world experience. John Strand (BHIS) is a veteran in the field and his experience comes through the entire course. The classes taught me a lot about technique, tools and connected a lot of dots for me. I can’t wait until WWHF where there is going to be more training and I get to meet a lot of these folks!


I was able to attend the Wild West Hacking’ Fest (Way West) conference in San Diego from May 3rd to May 6th. It was a bit overwhelming and not at all what I thought it would be. Compared to every other conference I have been to, it was the least inclusive and least informative, but I am not sure I was really the audience the conference was aimed at. Still I learned a lot.

Backups & Clones


My Mac has a lot of stuff on it, and it’s configured exactly as I want it. I would hate to lose the drive or have it stolen and be out of luck. I do use Time Machine to take regular backups of the files, even though my capsule died and I had to replace it with a 5TB drive. The concern I have with Time Machine is that it’s not a bit-for-bit copy of my hard drive that I can boot from if needed. Enter Carbon Copy Cloner. There are a few options out there to choose from, Super Duper being one of those, but after trying a few of them I landed on CCC. Cloning my drive gives me peace of mind, and the program monitors my HDD for file modifications, if the modifications == 1GB, then it performs a “sync” of sorts. Basically it’s another backup, but only the changes. That happens many times during the day, which is pretty awesome.

The only thing I wish this did was encrypt the data and require a key. In case someone snagged my external drive, it would be useless. For now I lock the drive in the hidden safe located in my office whenever I leave the house. But it would be great if that was something I did not have to do.

Fun with VMs

The need for a VM

This week I am taking the Active Defense & Cyber Deception class with John Strand and in preparation for the class I followed this guide.


One of the steps is to install VMWare. So I try this on my Macbook. It’s an M1, and I forgot when I was downloading to make sure to grab the right download. That failed because I have the M1 chip. I grabbed the right one, but it won’t run the VM because the VM wants X86 Arch. Of course.


So I scramble and borrow a Windows laptop (Dell Inspiron 17) that my mother in law is not using. We got it for her last Christmas, but she never uses it because it’s slow. Well, she was not kidding. It’s super slow, and that’s because HDD utilization under Task Manager is always at 100%. Like, always. I really don’t like Windows. I loved Windows 98, and XP was probably my favorite. That’s about the time I made the switch to Mac. So I spent almost a day doing all the things I could find and think of to solve the issue, but no go. Even reinstalled windows, updated all drivers, etc. I think the HDD and/or cable is bad or RAM is not working right and causing constant swapping. Whatever it is, I can’t use this laptop. I ordered an SSD and some new RAM so I can play with it later.


Next was to try and make this work on My Kali Linux. I was sure that it was not going to work, but someone in Discord who is also in the class mentioned that it should. I gave it a shot, and sure enough, I am good to go! I figured Kali would not work as well as Ubuntu, or RHEL, but it’s smooth.

So lesson learned … try Linux first. Always.

Hacking For All

In October of last year I stumbled upon a YouTube channel that looked super nerdy and fun. Indeed it was! Network Chuck is the guy’s name and he was building a K8s cluster using a Raspberry Pi. Bare metal install of K8s? Yes please! After thinking about it a few days, I decided I had to do it. So I did! I blogged about it of course and you can take a peek at K8s Part I and K8s PartII if you are interested. I had a blast building and configuring these and now I have this really great toy to play with.

While looking through this new channel I stumbled into a community that has totally sucked me in. I have always know about Hackers and Cybersecurity, it’s not like it was new information, but I had no idea it was something I could do. I had no idea it could be so fun either. My background is technically diverse to say the least. I have many years as a Linux SysAdmin working on clusters (literally the fastest in the world), many years as a Web Developer, many years in Technical Support, etc. I also have, well had, some of the same basic certification. RHCE, CCNA, VCP, A+, etc. So I have a lot of the same tools in my toolbelt that Pentester has, but never really explored that as an option. I am also not a computer scientist level programmer, and I assumed that because I was not, hacking was out of the question. But it’s not! Truth be told coding is fun as far as troubleshooting, but I only really like debugging code and making it work. Or peeling back the layers to determine why. As far as sitting down a coding, I’d much rather script tasks than write an app.

There are several roles within hacking and Cyber Security, and more importantly, a TON of resources for getting started on the journey. You can pivot into the field with a lot of work and studying. The thing you can not do quickly, of course, is gaining experience. That takes time, so be prepared to sink hours into this, which won’t be an issue if you love it. I personally am not looking to step into that role at the moment, mostly because I love where I work and I don’t see a path towards it there. My goal to have fun, eventually compete on a high level at HackTheBox, and knock out my very first Bug Bounty.

So how does one get started? I personally would start reading some books and watching some videos on YouTube. I have a page here that list these resources, but in particular I would start with a specific book and this article titled “The Conscience of a Hacker“.

Next head over to TryHackMe and HackTheBox Academy (HackTheBox as well) and start learning. Both have free resources and paid. The paid is worth it, 100%. I would then get connected on LinkedIn and start looking at what folks in this field do.

My next step is to dive in and learn some more in person with professionals. I am heading to WildWestHackinFest in May, which is a conference and training centered on hacking and Cyber Security. The eJPT is a certification I have my eye on next, As a basic entry level cert it represents all the hours I have poured into studying and demonstrates competency. Ultimately my desire is to contribute with the community at large to make the web a safe place.