Trans Scend Survival

Trans: Latin prefix implying "across" or "Beyond", often used in gender nonconforming situations – Scend: Archaic word describing a strong "surge" or "wave", originating with 15th century english sailors – Survival: 15th century english compound word describing an existence only worth transcending.

Category: DIY (page 1 of 4)

Persistent, Live Ubuntu for College

Below is are live mirrors of my “PSU Hacking Club” Ubuntu repos.

Generate psu-hacking.iso image & bootable media

The 'psu-hacking' disk image extends the Ubuntu LTS (18.04.x) operating system with common dependencies/software for the discerning college student.

  • Live, Persistent file storage
  • Fast: Ubuntu LTS + mkusb (casper-rw) = efficient
  • Use (almost) any hardware- take your desktop OS with you
  • Completely self sufficient: does not interact with your existing OS or other hard disks!

There are a variety of methods to setup a persistent, live OS.

Features & Software:

  • Atom editor with Chapel language support
  • R language + RStudio editor / IDE
  • Google Chrome
  • Libre Office suite
  • Common Runtimes and Compilers

Recommended Method:

For Ubuntu + PSU Hacking additions, use mkusb with the 2x USB drive method (below), and run the /scripts/ post install script:

git clone
cd iso-gen/scripts
chmod u+x && sudo ./
sudo reboot now

Visit /Disk-Speed-Testing for speed testing scripts and other info.

Visit /scripts for all install scripts and files for post install, Cubic utility, etc.

Visit /Alt-info_VBox_DD-Util for information on persistent, live environments from VBox VDI.

Make Your Own:

Thus far, the recommended way to get a persistent/live image installed is with two USB sticks:
One completely live (not persistent) Ubuntu drive, from which you can download and run the mkusb utility on the second USB stick.

Personal OS:

  • Download the official Ubuntu image here
  • Download Etcher from here
  • Use Etcher to burn Ubuntu to USB stick #1

USB stick #1:

  • Boot from the USB stick:
    • Mac hardware- hold the alt/option key when the machine turns on
    • Other hardware- hold the boot loader key (usually F12, or F2 / F10) when the machine turns on
  • Follow the Ubuntu prompts (please avoid the host hardware’s disk, do not install anything anywhere yet)

Open a terminal and copy these commands:

# get mkusb
sudo add-apt-repository universe  
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mkusb/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mkusb mkusb-nox usb-pack-efi
  • insert USB stick #2
  • Open mkusb:
    • Follow prompts, psu-hacking iso should be in directory “home”
    • Select NO for “Quick Option” on host’s disk
    • Finish the prompts, quit, shutdown

USB stick #2: - Remove drive #1 - Boot from USB stick #2: - Mac hardware- hold the alt/option key when the machine turns on - Other hardware- hold the boot loader key (usually F12, or F2 / F10) when the machine turns on - Congratulate yourself, you are done!

Building the image:

On Ubuntu LTS

Note: mkusb utility is only available for Debian/Ubuntu

About persistent live Ubuntu:

When burned into a usb stick, this OS is completely self-sufficient and compatible with most (x86-64) computers- the environment, file system, preferences, etc are saved regardless of hardware.

Note:  Cubic utility is no longer used!


Simple File Hosting

Static site built with Hugo CLI

Note, file "core_psu-hacking.iso" is omitted for size constraints- hosted site contains this file @ directory /static/static/

# on OSX
# get hugo

brew install hugo

# clone site

git clone
cd static-site

# Compile and compress public directory

zip -r public

# upload and host with sftp & ssh

> cd
> put

# new terminal window

# check your remote filesystem- the idea is:
> unzip
> rm -rf

visit us

Also, check out the evolving PSU Hacking Club wiki here!

xD  – Jess

Summer 2019 Update!

GIS Updates:

Newish Raster / DEM image → STL tool in the Shiny-Apps repo:

See the (non-load balanced!) live example on the Heroku page:

Summarized for a forum member here too:

CAD / CAM Updates:

Been revamping my CNC thoughts- 

Basically, the next move is a complete rebuild (primarily for 6061 aluminum).

I am aiming for:

  • Marlin 2.x.x around either a full-Rambo or 32 bit Archim 1.0 (
  • Dual endstop configuration, CNC only (no hotend support)
  • 500mm2 work area / swappable spoiler boards (~700mm exterior MPCNC conduit length)
  • Continuous compressed air chip clearing, shop vac / cyclone chip removal
  • Two chamber, full acoustic enclosure (cutting space + air I/O for vac and compressor)
  • Full octoprint networking via GPIO relays

FWIW: Sketchup MPCNC:

Also TinkerCAD version:

Electric Drivetrain Development:

BORGI / Axial Flux stuff:

Designed some rough coil winders for motor design here:


Also, an itty-bitty, skate bearing-scale axial flux / 3-phase motor to hack upon:


– Jess

Deploy Shiny R apps along Node.JS

Find the tools in action on Heroku as a node.js app!

See the code on GitHub:

After many iterations of ideas regarding deployment for a few research Shiny R apps, I am glad to say the current web-only setup is 100% free and simple to adapt.   I thought I’d go through some of the Node.JS bits I have been fussing with. 

The Current one:  

Heroku has a free tier for node.js apps.  See the pricing and limitations here: as far as I can tell, there is little reason to read too far into a free plan; they don’t have my credit card, and thy seem to convert enough folks to paid customers to be nice enough to offer a free something to everyone.  

Shiny apps-– works straight from RStudio.  They have a free plan. Similar to Heroku, I can care too much about limitations as it is completely free.  

The reasons to use Node.JS (even if it just a jade/html wrapper) are numerous, though may not be completely obvious.  If nothing else, Heroku will serve it for free….

Using node is nice because you get all the web-layout-ux-ui stacks of stuff if you need them.  Clearly, I have not gone to many lengths to do that, but it is there.

Another big one is using node.js with Electron. The idea is a desktop app framework serves up your node app to itself, via the chromium.  I had a bit of a foray with Electron- the node execa npm install execa package let me launch a shiny server from electron, wait a moment, then load a node/browser app that acts as a interface to the shiny process.  While this mostly worked, it is definitely overkill for my shiny stuff.  Good to have as a tool though.


Recycled Personal “Cloud Computing” under NAT

As many may intuit, I like the AWS ecosystem; it is easy to navigate and usually just works.  

…However- more than 1000 dollars later, I no longer use AWS for most things….


My goals: 

Selective sync:  I need a unsync function for projects and files due to the tiny 256 SSD on my laptop (odrive is great, just not perfect for cloud computing.

Shared file system:  access files from Windows and OSX, locally and remote

Server must be headless, rebootable, and work remotely from under a heavy enterprise NAT (College)

Needs more than 8gb ram

Runs windows desktop remotely for gis applications, (OSX on my laptop)


Have as much shared file space as possible: 12TB+


Server:  recycled, remote, works-under-enterprise-NAT:

Recycled Dell 3010 with i5:

– Cost: $75 (+ ~$200 in windows 10 pro, inevitable license expense) 

free spare 16gb ram laying around, local SSD and 2TB HDD upgrades

– Does Microsoft-specific GIS bidding, can leave running without hampering productivity

Resilio (bittorrent) Selective sync:

– Cost: $60

– p2p Data management for remote storage + desktop

– Manages school NAT and port restrictions well (remote access via relay server)

Drobo 5c:

Attached and syncs to 10TB additional drobo raid storage, repurposed for NTFS

  • Instead of EBS (or S3)


What I see:  front end-

Jump VNC Fluid service:

– Cost: ~$30

– Super efficient Fluid protocol, clients include chrome OS and IOS,  (with mouse support!)

– Manages heavy NAT and port restrictions well

– GUI for everything, no tunneling around a CLI

  • Instead of Workspaces, EC2

Jetbrains development suite: (OSX)

– Cost:  FREE as a verified GitHub student user.

– PyCharm IDE, Webstorm IDE

  • Instead of Cloud 9


Total (extra) spent: ~$165

(Example:  my AWS bill for only October was $262)



Shiny App-specific Repo

New Shiny App specific Repo now live…

With KML Search and Convert now fully functional (along with the tiny app “clean”) , live shiny apps of mine now have a repo of their own.  Check it out!


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