Pomodoro Timer with Esp8266 ,micropython and slack – a small weekend project

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Hi All,

Pomodoro technique is really effective, more than the technique it’s more or less like a good stress buster to me.


There are few problems with the timer management

1.  It’s impractical for me to manually add 25-minute timer every time

2. I can do a small script but again my computer should always be on

3. Use some app or use a timer with sound (both of them are really disturbing for myself and also colleagues around me)

What did I use

  1. With anything involving DIY/IoT, there are two important aspects – It should be small and portable and secondly, cost should below.

Components Used :

  1. ESP8266
  2. 0.96Inch 128×64 OLED display (Pictures below)
  3. Micropython ( I could have gone with C++ but honestly I don’t know the language, hence I had to go through a lot of pain to make it work in microphone)
  4. Slack for daytime notifications about timer stages

Challenges :

  1. How do I make sure I don’t look at the clock every 25 minutes? Sound is not an option, so I used a slack webhook to notify me
  2. Code was big and hence there were memory allocation issues in micro-controller, used mpy_cross to compile code and transport to micropython (http://docs.micropython.org/en/latest/index.html)
  3. Overall project cost – Less than 3.5 USD

code used :



For every 25 Mins, it would indicate a 5-minute non-compulsive break and after 2.5 Hours a compulsive break of 15 minutes. It’s understandable that in our nature of work we might be in a call or meeting or a code review, but just a small a non-compulsive reminder that we have a 5m break for hydration or fresh air does really improve thought process and most importantly is a de-stressor.




Grafana and Influx – Infrastructure Engineers Language

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If you want to understand what Infra engineer speaks and use a tool provided by them you need to have some exposure to the tool itself, you don’t have to be an expert.


Monitoring systems that I see nowadays are mostly centric around Prometheus while the Database used for storing any time-series events is InfluxDB. How do you actually map beautifully, its via Grafana

Grafana – https://grafana.com/

Influxdb – https://www.influxdata.com/

Prometheus – https://prometheus.io/

Now the problem here is that many tools are programmed on a daily basis, from a Network Engineer point of view I understood a few things. 

Not everything you need to know the end to end like an Expert for that tool and some choices is purely based on Cost than anything else. 

How would you really understand this? I set up a BME680 sensor in my home and will precisely use Grafana and Influx to map the recordings

Tools Used 


Raspberry Pi 3

Docker Images – Grafana and Influx

Sample Influx Script – https://github.com/yukthr/auts/blob/master/random_programs/influx-test.py

And finally Beautiful Grafana

All of this is open source and are not hard after the invent of Docker. Give it a try so that we ultimately understand networks in a better way.





Tmux – Am liking it

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Typically Linux admins always appreciate VI editor, I always used to like Nano Editor until I realized how good VI actually is.

But this post is not about Vi Editor as such, this more about Tmux a Terminal Emulator


What is the beauty, Its more like a GNU Screen Program, but does so much more than GNU screen.


Example is below

Screen Shot 2019-05-25 at 11.38.39 AM




Alexa , AWS Lambda & AWS IOT MQTT and you can interact with anything

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I hear a lot on IOT but don’t have a clue on underlying protocols. My interest is only to understand how it might help a business or more than that my personal interests. So continuing the server power on/off series I wanted to do it with Amazon echo voice command. Now, this is not a smart power switch where you can power-on with a command on Echo but you actually have to send a message to IDRAC, we already covered this in a previous post.

Well, the main goal isn’t to power-on a server that can be done manually as it sits beside me, the main goal is to extend this to any business / personal ideas which might get the benefit.

Summary – Develop a small interactive model to understand Alexa voice service / AWS lambda and MQTT so that we can get a feel of what can be achieved with this.

I will not go much into any tech explanations or bore you with English, I will put here two screenshots and code to git, hopefully, you should be able to give it a try.


Its illustrated in 6 steps

  1. Voice command to echo (I have made developer skill on developer Alexa portal – Its free and its easy. Lot of blueprints)
  2. Alexa portal interacts with AWS Lambda (serverless)
  3. AWS Lambda communicates the message in JSON format to AWS IOT
  4. Raspberry PI listens to a particular MQTT channel for the type of message
  5. Depending on the incoming message JSON, Raspberry pi Matches the string and invokes the further script.




Code to Git link



Python Decorators – From a Network Engineers Perspective

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As going through learning some basic programming, I encountered Decorators. I should be very honest if any of you are trying to figure out or learn what decorators in python do from my blog post you are dangerously in trouble.

So what this post about if not learning, well its mostly on what the functionality is so that you can learn the concept from better programming resources.


Let’s examine the below code


The output will be something like below


What’s in this code:

The first thing you have to realize is that some representation with ‘@’ symbol. If you have noticed get_reinfo and get_modelinfo functions, they have one thing in common which is to connect to the device and get output before they parse the required fields, that what a Decorator is helping us to do here, we extend that wrapping functionality around new functions without having to write everything or globalize everything.

At least that is what I understood.  So, next time when you are writing some code try to think if you can incorporate decorators into them.



Emulating Juniper Devices – Various options



I have got a lot of requests for writing up a blog post on various Methods of emulating Juniper devices for practice.

Note : For 2/3 methods to work, you need to have official Junos software (vmx-vcp and vmx-vfp)

Method 1 – Gns3

Most popular and Familiar Method – Install via gns3

After installing Gns3, download the

Vmx-vfp Appliance – https://docs.gns3.com/appliances/juniper-vmx-vfp.html

Vmx-vcp Appliance – https://docs.gns3.com/appliances/juniper-vmx-vcp.html

Documentation is straight forward, all you need to do is double click on the appliance and upload the image when requested, as easy as it can get.


Method2 – Vagrant

Use Juniper uploaded Images via vagrant.

Most of Juniper Vqfx / JNCIE-DC practice came up from a vagrant, You don’t need to have any official images or access to Juniper software downloads. The downside is that it only supports VQFX and generic SRX, but for most of the Routing protocol and MPLS learning this should be good.




Again, following Github link, will auto setup the topology without you worrying about much details to vagrant.

https://github.com/Juniper/vqfx10k-vagrant -> Go into a specific folder and say vagrant up, that should take care of installing and bringing up the boxes


Method3- My personal favorite as of now – Advanced Method.

Via Docker

A good blog post on how to do it

Deploy Juniper vMX via Docker Compose

but am following the method from VRNET lab package from Github, it took a while to figure out the specific way to set up this after reading instructions but its really worth it.


You need to have some understanding of Docker and need to read up how to set up connectivity between containers, but once you get to know it most of it can be scripted and automated.

There are some other paid and free emulated tools but most of it I wanted to reduce the scope which is supported by a global group of people via Git and it will have a future scope of development when compared to Tools which are closed source.






Docker and Netdata – Awesome for Monitoring our home servers !

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I don’t belong to any DevOps space but I keep hearing things like Docker / kubernetes and what not. I Quickly wanted to see what these are capable of and if I can use them to my advantage so that later I can see the use case for networking.

Docker so far seems to be far more capable and am enjoying it. Thanks to one of my friends who suggested this wonderful Repo, monitoring my server has been more granular.

I will have a detailed post on Juniper MX image via docker but for now, I have used it for something out of networking space to serve a small purpose.


This what Netdata UI looks like while monitoring my server, this is really wonderful as for the long time  I was trying to implement many Monitoring systems and most of them required some dedicated hardware or at least a Vmware spin-off instance, which is fine for me I suppose but I wanted something small and yet effective.

Netdata operates on port 19999 of localhost and should be reachable via any web-browser.

I made a small cronjob which starts this instance on every reboot.

Installation is pretty straight forward, you have to install docker and follow the below guide


Note: For some reason, I was not able to install netdata using default installation process and Irony is that it only worked through docker which I wanted to explore.



My Ignorance for a Year and Dell IDRAC

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I have a Dell R810 and it makes a lot of noise. So, I have put it somewhere remote in the home where it’s completely inhabitable for human beings. Now, the problem was always to go there and manually power-up the system.  This has been the scenario for years. So, technically if am away from my home I need to take help from my wife. All this is going well and I was always wondered should it not have a better way to do things.

Was talking to my friend and he had some paid solution for the same thing, he doesn’t even remember and that’s for his cisco gear, now for Cisco gear as long you supply power they will be powered (if the Power button is always on), for servers however just like our Personal CPU’s and Laptops you have to manually press the power button.

Then yesterday all of a sudden I took this somewhat seriously and explored options, then I understood it was sitting right inside the server, Dell has something called Integrated DRAC system which helps you do this thing, all you need to have is a proper Lan connection, the message was always there during the boot but it was ignorance in servers which made me shoo away with the boot messages. The below image is slightly dull as I have said the place where this sit’s is not great with light.



After quick setup of IDRAC, I was looking for this to work over a script and below is the script

Git – https://github.com/yukthr/auts/blob/master/random_programs/server_idrac.py

And it looks something like this


All of this may look serious programming for someone who is not into this yet, this is really easy and most of it is nothing to do with programming, few lines from here and there and StackOverflow will do ;), again I can write this with my programming knowledge imagine what you can do with this.









Multithreading – Whats in it ?

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I never took threading seriously, partly because I was barely getting started with programming let alone running and improving a Programs performance. I have all the time in the universe to wait for the program to run instead of making it run much faster 😉

Problem statement: Has 3 sites to ping, make 3 parallel pings (like opening 3 terminal and issuing a parallel ping statement) instead of one by one approach and has to be done with python

Threading Module comes to Rescue



Basically, in the below output if you see two blocks, one block gets executed sequentially one ping after the other while the other one includes threading and everything is taken parallel and hence we see the output differences as well. I think am yet to figure on calculating time aspect of the threading but it is definitely faster.

Again not going much into GIL or (IO / CPU threading differences), all I can say is we can use this to enhance some day to day activities.



This may sound a little strange, macosx was not giving me any results for threading while any Linux / Unix (raspberry pi in this case) was good enough for testing the threading.



Listing TOP 5 Processes – Top command

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Continuing some exploration of Pandas, I realized in networking we often has to deal with Toptalkers, I dont have any Networking Realted Top Talker IP Data as such but wanted to see if this can checked on my Laptop’s current Processes comsuming CPU and Top processes which are repeated often.

Without dragging the topic

-> Took the text file it was delimited with space (TOP Command will generally Delimit)

-> Converted to Pandas Read FWF and then converted the file to CSV

-> Used CSV to read into specific %CPU coloumn and implemented SORT function in descending order.

-> Finally Took Counter from Collections Module and implemented it on the list.

output looksl something like this

Pandas are effective and easy, I will continue to explore some functions so as to build some scripts in day to day activities.




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