I’m Benjamin Gray

a developer & information technologist in Atlanta

about me

I’m a full-stack web developer from Chicago now living in Atlanta. I build web apps and products. Since 2005 I’ve been engaged in the everything from front-end UX to back-end SQL; all the way down to the iron on which the software runs.

Here I ramble about things such as software development, security, and living life.

Carb Repair on My Snapper SR1028

I own a Snapper riding lawnmower that recently began having trouble both starting and running. In addition to those two problems it was exhibiting the following:

  • Lots of white smoke from the exhaust
  • Lots of oil/gas mixture making its way into the air filter housing
  • Strong gasoline odor coming from the mower even days after it had been used

Before I get into what the problem was and how I repaired it, some details of the mower itself. On the side of the mower it says SR1028, and the exact model number is 281016BE. The engine is a Briggs & Stratton model #28A707.

written in in engine, mower, repair Read on →

Installing and Configuring Seafile on Ubuntu 12.04

So you like the idea of Dropbox but don’t like the idea of your files, pictures, videos and other private data sitting on someone else’s iron? That’s the boat I was in recently when I began looking for a way to synchronize my files between my (several) PC’s and (several) smartphones. Long story short, after trying a handful of products on the market I landed firmly on Seafile. It’s easily the most robust self-hosted file-sharing server available at the time of this writing. It uses the same version control technology that makes github the beast it is. Best of all, it’s open source, so I can trust that my private media stays free from the meddling of PRISM.

written in in cloud, file-sharing, linux Read on →

Setting Up Mutt on Ubuntu 12.04

Seeing as I’m always looking for something new to try with Linux I recently decided to have a go at installing and setting up Mutt on my Ubuntu 12.04 headless server.  My thought process as to why I chose a text-based email client went something like this:

  • I wanted something secure
  • I wanted to get away from web-based applications (read: Gmail)
  • I still wanted to be able to view my email from work or from the road
  • I didn’t want to use anything like Squirrel Mail
  • I wanted to keep it simple

It’s quite a tall order to fill,

written in in email, linux, ubuntu Read on →

Odd Problem With an Intel DZ68BC Motherboard

Ran into an interesting problem today regarding an Intel motherboard, BIOS and some CPU’s.

First the hardware involved:

  • Intel DZ68BC motherboard
  • Intel i5 Ivy Bridge CPU

The symptoms:

  • Three long beeps when motherboard is powered on
  • POST error code 15
  • No BIOS screen available, no video output at all

written in in Intel, computers Read on →

Treaties Are Necessary but Useless

Bruce Schneier wrote a timely article on cyberwar and the need for treaties to govern the use or misuse of these new technologies. While I agree that cyberwar is going to increasingly become a concern in our world, I hate to point out that it’s going to be impossible to come to any sort of an agreement for control insofar as its use is concerned.

written in in cyberwar, security, treaty Read on →

Ubuntu 12.04 for a Basic Home Server

I’m writing this article mainly as a resource for myself so the next time I set up an Ubuntu server I’ll have something of a checklist to go by. All this information has been gleaned from various resources on the Internet, I’m not even sure where most of the knowledge came from.

Software: Ubuntu Server (headless) 12.04 32-bit
Hardware: HP Workstation xw4400 – Core2 Duo – 2GB Memory – Two 1TB HDD in RAID1

written in in how-to, linux, server, ubuntu Read on →

Do You Have Curtains on Your Windows?

When I get into a conversation about privacy in relation to government surveilance, profiling and information gathering I’m most often up against an individual who holds the position of “I’ve got nothing to hide,” and “Only if you’re doing something wrong should you worry, and then you don’t deserve to keep it private.” Security expert Bruce Schneier calls this argument the “most common retort against privacy advocates.” Unfortunately the anti-privacy stance usually stems from an inaccurate definition of privacy, as well as an uninformed concept of the dangers a lack of privacy can lead to.

written in in data, privacy, security Read on →

What Do You Believe In?

I was having a conversation with a good friend today about beliefs. I’m not talking about religion, I’m talking about believing in ourselves. See, I believe that there’s very little holding me back from accomplishing virtually anything I want. I believe that given enough time and resources I could learn to fly a commercial jet, race in the Iditarod, or build a supercomputer. The only thing stopping me from accomplishing these feats is myself.

written in in ability, self Read on →

Christian Education Program in the Small Church

Among the final essays I wrote in college the following was one that managed to find its way into a filing cabinet full of college-type things. There were notes on the book of Acts (thank you Dr. Julio Vena) and a picture of me in my cheerleading garb. The reason I’ve chosen to reproduce this particular work here, in this format, is because as I sit in my recliner on the long-side of a ministry career I look back at the words I wrote and realize how startlingly accurate I was. It’s startling because I had absolutely zero practical experience in a small church environment but by and large nailed the internal culture point by point. Here’s to research papers.

written in in essay, ministry Read on →