An aggregation of our Blog Roll, made up of acmqueue authors.   more

Postings for January 2017:  (37 posts)
Tue, 24 Jan 2017 03:00:40 UTC

Full Google Maps, finally!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Some months back I found an easy workaround to persuade Google Maps to go into full map mode on my machine. But it seems that Google has fixed this bug: it no longer works. Why do they go to such trouble to ensure that people running FreeBSD do not have access to full maps? It would be easy to assume that they're doing it deliberately, which I would see as an abuse of their position of market dominance. I don't know if that's illegal in Australia; it definitely is in Europe, and I wonder how long it will be before the EU authorities get at them for that.

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:00:00 UTC

How I manage my work and personal GitHub accounts

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I have two accounts on GitHub: Personal and work. How do I access both from the same computer without getting them confused? I have two different ssh keys and use .ssh/config to do the right thing. Some bash aliases also help. Why? Why is it important to me that I keep these two accounts separate? First, certain repos can only be accessed from one account or the other. Public repos can be accessed from either, but private repos are not so lucky. Second, I want the commit logs for different projects should reflect whether I am "Tom the person" or "Tom the employee".

Sun, 22 Jan 2017 20:00:00 UTC

The Womens March

Posted By Tim Bray

Just like everyone else I have a theory about What It Means, but I also have a story and a cool picture to illustrate. We go to a few choir concerts, since my wife sings in one and is part of that social network. On January 21st in a two-choir show, the second half featured Roots N Wings, an all-women ensemble. They opened with just a few singers on stage, then the rest came up the aisles, singing Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around (one of the Freedom Songs), some with the hats, some with signs. The crowd came alive, on their feet, clapping and yelling, singing along.

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 19:09:47 UTC

Measures of Donald Trump's Inaugural Address

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

Computers allow us to measure objectively the properties of text. I applied some established text and sentiment analysis algorithms on Donald Trump's inaugural address and compared the results with the same metrics of past well-known presidents. Presidential speeches are nowadays typically a team effort. Nevertheless, I thought that the speech writing team's output reflects the president's choices regarding staffing, policy, and style. Moreover, as luck would have it, in this case it was reported that Donald Trump wrote the inaugural address himself . The findings of this exercise surprised me.

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 22:35:46 UTC

How to integrate a camera into a network

Posted By Greg Lehey

We have a Begonia in the lounge room with small white flowers which point downwards: How do you get a photo of the flowers? From below, of course: And how do you compose and focus? There are two choices: grovel on the ground or use a smart phone with OI.Share: After trying both, it's clear that grovelling on the ground is the easier solution.

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:00:00 UTC

RIP John Boris

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

John was active in the LOPSA community. I saw him at nearly every LOPSA-NJ meeting, where he was active in planning and hosting the meetings. He was also on the board of LOPSA (national) where he will be greatly missed. John was also a football coach at the school where he worked in the IT department. It was very clear that his coaching skills were something he applied everywhere, including his helpfulness and mentoring at LOPSA. I had a feeling that when I hugged him at the end of the January LOPSA meeting it might be the last time I saw him.

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:50:43 UTC

How to avoid redoing manual corrections

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

Say you have an automated process to create a report, which you then have to polish by hand, because there are adjustments that require human judgment. After three hours of polishing, you realize that the report is full of errors due to a bug in the initial reporting process. Is there a way to salvage the three hours of work you put into it?

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:55:53 UTC

Don't trust that site!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Fired up my Mac OS VM today to check something, and along came iTunes to annoy me. But this time it got hoist by its own petard: How did they manage that? ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 20:00:00 UTC

China Story

Posted By Tim Bray

I recently read Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. It was shortlisted for, but didnt win, the Man Booker. Its wonderful but its not her best; Dogs at the Perimeter from 2011 is I think the best novel Ive read this century. Herewith notes on both. Do Not Say This ones about an extended Chinese family, containing many musicians, all over China and (briefly) in Canada. It starts during the Japanese occupation and leaves off nicely in 2016 without really ending. Along with the musicians, leading actors include the Anti-Landlord Campaign, the anti-Rightist Movement, the Cultural Revolution, and the uprising that ended in blood on Tienanmens stones.

Sun, 15 Jan 2017 00:57:25 UTC

iPhone hang?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I tried to make a phone call with my iPhone. The call timed out, repeatedly and on different numbers. No error message, no sound at all (I never spoke a word). Tried calling it from Yvonne's phone. This number is not reachable. But it showed a signal, and when I checked later I still had credit. So why didn't it work? Back home, looked at the device again. It still claimed to have signal, in my office, where there is none. The Samsung GT-I9100T correctly showed no signal. So I rebooted the Apple. Now it, too, showed no signal. But when I tried to make a call, it tried anyway, and then returned to the dial display with no comment whatsoever.

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 03:56:18 UTC

New members for the Dereel Camera Crew

Posted By Greg Lehey

The Dereel Camera Crew is a Facebook group. Admittedly, it's not very bigcurrently only 10 membersbut Facebook does what it can to help: All of these people are members of the FreeBSD project. I don't even know where most of them live. I think Doug lives in the United Kingdom, Jordan lives in California, and Alfred lives in New York City. And I have no idea where the other two live, but probably also in the USA.

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 03:34:59 UTC

DxO: prize-winning documentation

Posted By Greg Lehey

At the end of November last year I submitted a ticket against DxO Optics Pro: it didn't handle the new version of DxO ViewPoint as I expected, and I couldn't find the manual, just a collection of badly linked web pages that I can't brute-force search. Where's the PDF version? The ticket was a nightmare, showing the inappropiateness of the system. But I kept getting referred back to and, the pages with the web-based information: But it also came up with some information about one of the features, which showed up a bug in the software.

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:00:00 UTC

Èê³ and Me

Posted By Tim Bray

Ive been sending fewer words out onto the Net so far this year, and one of the reasons was The Last Guardian, which I finished last night. Now Im missing it and maybe writing about it will help. Theres been controversy about the game but I think that on balance its great, one of 2016s more significant works of art, and also a dozen or two hours of fine entertainment for those cold winter evenings. Im going to wrap my impressions around a handful of my screen-grabs  the Internet has better ones, but these are mine. I couldnt bring myself to scale them down, so theyre a gift for those of you with big screens; for the rest of you, try clicking on, then shrinking, a couple, to get the full effect.

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 14:34:38 UTC

Why the Trump era is the perfect time to go long on freedom and short on surveillance

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My new Locus column is “Its Time to Short Surveillance and Go Long on Freedom,” which starts by observing that Barack Obama’s legacy includes a beautifully operationalized, professional and terrifying surveillance apparatus, which Donald Trump inherits as he assumes office and makes ready to make good on his promise to deport millions of Americans and... more

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:40:05 UTC

BSD: What could have been

Posted By Greg Lehey

Unix is coming on 48 years old. It's hard to think that more than half of that time elapsed since the first free Unix derivates (and Linux) came on the scene. The time from about 1990 to 1996 was significant, and in the end Linux won the battle, at least partially because of the fighting between the various Unix camps. A number of old farts discuss things on The Unix Heritage Society mailing list, and in the past few days a couple of interesting ones have gone by. It seems that Larry McVoy crusaded for open sourcing SunOS 4 back in 1993, as this proposal shows.

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:00:00 UTC

How Stack Overflow plans to survive the next DNS attack

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

My coworker did a bang-up job on this blog post. It explains a lot about how DNS works, how the Dyn DDOS attack worked (we missed it because we don't use Dyn), and the changes we made so that we'll avoid similar attacks when they come. How Stack Overflow plans to survive the next DNS attack

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 23:00:26 UTC

Re-fetching POP mail from gmail

Posted By Greg Lehey

A few days ago I received mail from Don Melton explaining how to re-fetch mail from gmail with POP3. Go to settings and select Forwarding and POP/IMAP, then Enable POP for all mail (even mail that's already been downloaded). Save and download. It really seems that gmail doesn't honour whatever is behind fetchmail's -a flag: it works the same either way. And once it has downloaded, it silently resets the flag: That suggests poor adherence to the standards, but at least it's a workaround. And it's less disruptive than running IMAP.

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 22:53:29 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

Last month I noted an unusual entry in a British company register: I had thought it a bug in their software. But no, Bruce Schneier has established that it's a real company. I wonder how long that will last. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 23:54:11 UTC

Trump: Tracking twits

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the more interesting things about Donald Trump is his use of Twitter to express himself. Time to follow him? Signed in to Twitter for the first time since 30 March 2011, when I wrote: Back for the first itme in years. Nothing appears to have improved. And yes, I couldn't find a way to fix the typo. Following Trump was easy enough. And he shows reverse chronological listing up to perfection. Here an example posted 12 hours ago, probably round 0:00 UTC on 8 January: both countries will, perhaps, work together to solve some of the many great and pressing problems and issues of the WORLD!

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 23:08:24 UTC

Installing Mac OS X Sierra

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's clear that Jordan Hubbard is no longer with Apple: the new releases of Mac OS X are no longer named after cats. But they have maintained the practice of referring to releases by name rather than number. It seems that the most recent release is 10.12, better known as Sierra, and it seems it's available online for free. Is this legal? It's hosted on Google, so I assume that either it is, or everybody's turned a blind eye. Spent some time installing it on VirtualBox, according to these instructions, clearly Microsoft-oriented. The first issue was downloading the images, in my case from

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 18:15:52 UTC

CS Responder Trans-Oceanic Cable Layer

Posted By James Hamilton

Laying fiber optic cables with repeaters along the ocean floor raises super-interesting technical challenges. I recently visited the CS Responder, a trans-ocean cable-laying ship operated by TE Connectivity. TE Connectivity is $13.3B global technology company that specializes in communication cable, connectors, sensors, and electronic components. Their subsidiary TE SubCom manufactures, lays and maintains undersea cable. TE SubCom has a base...

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 00:05:22 UTC

Peaceful Saturday evening

Posted By Greg Lehey

Preparing dinner took correspondingly long, and in the middle of it the microwave oven died. It still heated, but the irritatingly loud fan got so quiet that it almost stopped. It was barely two years old, but it annoyed me running its fan when not necessary, so it was a mixed blessing. But it meant that dinner started late. After dinner into the office to investigate something I had noticed earlier: the UPS was turning its fan on. Checked the status. Output voltage 211 V. That seemed low. How do I switch the display? Other button? BAD idea. That was the power button, and unlike every desktop UPS I have ever seen, this one has no delay built in to it.

Fri, 06 Jan 2017 22:30:34 UTC

Mutt with IMAP

Posted By Greg Lehey

I still have a few messages on gmail that I can't transfer sanely: they're marked read for POP3 purposes, and gmail doesn't honour the download all flag, so I can't download them, and any attempt to forward them both mutilates them and is also painful in the extreme. Jashank Jeremy suggested IMAP, but following the recipe didn't give me what I want. So today I had another attack, looking at the manual, which seems somewhat out of date: Polling for new mail on an IMAP server can cause noticeable delays. So, you'll want to carefully tune the $mail_check and $timeout variables.

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 23:10:07 UTC

More mobile phone pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town, discovered that somebody had called me on my old mobile phone number no less than 4 times in the last few days, including leaving a message. Deferred that until I got back home, where I discovered that with ALDImobile I can only access messages from the phone, and I was out of range. Still, while I was there, I wanted to check on my data usage. The good news is that it's now measured in granules of 1 kB (or KB, as they prefer to call it). The bad news is that it took me 10 minutes to log in.

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 15:00:00 UTC

NYCDevOps meetup is re-starting!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

Hey NYC-area folks! The NYC DevOps meetup is springing back to life! Our next meeting will be Tuesday, January 17, 2017 from 6pm-7:30pm. The meeting is at the Stack Overflow NYC headquarters near the financial district. For complete details, visit From the announcement: Please join us on January 17th from 6:00 - 7:30 PM at Stack Exchange for our first annual DevOps Mixer. Our goal is to re-engage with our members for an inaugural meet and greet with our new team of organizers, awesome community members, and of course there will be refreshments! Come socialize with us and talk about your experiences, what's new, what you're working on and what you would like to see from the NYC DevOps Meetup.

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 01:44:23 UTC

NBN for Chris Bahlo

Posted By Greg Lehey

Round July 2015, when she moved in to her new house, Chris Bahlo applied for an National Broadband Network connection. Failure: not enough signal. But ten months later I spoke to the installers again, and they can now fit masts up to 3 m high. That might just be enough to make the difference for Chris, about whom the NBN is ambivalent anyway, as this extract from the rollout map shows: The correct address is 302 Rokewood Junction Road, the house and buildings in the lower part of the map, but NBN chose 276, the Yeardley house.

Wed, 04 Jan 2017 06:00:00 UTC

Are You Load Balancing Wrong?

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I write a thrice-yearly column in acmqueue Magazine. The Dec 20 issue has my newest entry, "Are You Load Balancing Wrong?" You can read it at this URL: acmqueue is free for ACM professional members. Non-members can purchase an annual subscription for $19.99 or a single issue for $6.99. Download the app from iTunes or Google Play, or view within your browser. More information here.

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 23:58:30 UTC

Ethernet connector: 45 minutes

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that I have my network relay board working, it's time to put it in place in the shed. When we built the house we had network cables laid to every room, and also the shed. But for some reason we didn't have the one in the shed terminated: there was just a roll of Cat 5 cable there. Not a problem. I've terminated network cables before. All I need is a connector and a crimping tool. Last time I borrowed one from Chris BahloYeardley. But since then she has changed her name and lost the tool. So I bought one and some connectors in late November.

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 23:24:37 UTC

Understanding MythTV hangs

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's hang on my MythTV box was accompanied by a lot of log messages. What do they mean? And what should I have seen at the beginning of a recording? Went looking today, and found: Jan  3 10:29:00 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[789]: I Scheduler scheduler.cpp:2267 (HandleReschedule) Reschedule requested for PLACE PrepareToRecord Jan  3 10:29:00 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[789]: I Scheduler scheduler.cpp:2380 (HandleReschedule) Scheduled 22 items in 0.0 = 0.00 match + 0.00 check + 0.02 place Jan  3 10:29:30 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[789]: I Scheduler mythdbcon.cpp:422 (PurgeIdleConnections) New DB connection, total: 12 Jan  3 10:29:30 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[789]: I TVRecEvent tv_rec.cpp:1610 (HandlePendingRecordings) TVRec[1]: ASK_RECORDING 1 29 0 0 Jan  3 10:30:00 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[789]: I TVRecEvent tv_rec.cpp:1073 (HandleStateChange) TVRec[1]: Changing from None to RecordingOnly Jan  3 10:30:00 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[789]: I TVRecEvent tv_rec.cpp:3563 (TuningCheckForHWChange) TVRec[1]: HW Tuner: 1->1 Jan  3 10:30:00 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[789]: ...

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 16:34:26 UTC

Debugging PCSecrets Synchronization

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

A reader of my Effective Debugging book commented that debugging is learned through experience. I think he's partly right, so I'll periodically describe here techniques and tools I use when debugging. A problem I faced today was the inability of the PC-based PCSecrets program to sync with the Secrets for Android counterpart. Here is how I troubleshot and solved the problem.

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 23:58:14 UTC

More MythTV pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H, my amazingly named MythTV box, has been a continual source of frustration, almost to the point that I don't record anything any more. One exception is the almost daily news programme from Deutsche Welle, who have managed to obfuscate their web site to a degree that not only can I not listen to the programme on line, I can't even decide whether they intend the programme to be available or not. But in the last two days the recording failed. Why? Again, some kind of digital constipation. Took a look at the log files and found, in /var/log/mythtv/mythbackend.log Jan  2 10:20:13 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[793]: N Expire autoexpire.cpp:264 (CalcParams) AutoExpire: CalcParams(): Max required Free Space: 0.0 GB w/freq: 15 min Jan  2 10:20:13 greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H mythbackend: mythbackend[793]: N Expire autoexpire.cpp:641 (SendDeleteMessages) Expiring 457 MB for 1034 at 2016-10-04T06:30:00Z => "Talking Language" Jan ...

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 23:48:36 UTC

More iPhone fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of messages from Eddie Purcell today. It seems that the iPhone can make clicking sounds when you take photos. But it's not in a settings menu: there's a physical switch on the side of the phone which mutes most sounds (but not the phone), and it was set to mute. After turning it on, it clicks as expected. He also recommended TomTom GO Mobile as a GPS app for the iPhone. Tried downloading that, and it certainly does some things well. It costs money, but I get the first 75 km free, a much better idea than the first week: I installed iGO on my Android phone two weeks ago, and though I haven't actually used it, the trial period is over.

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 22:39:50 UTC

No mail!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Came into the office this morning to discover that I had received no mail since yesterday evening. What's the problem there? === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/29) ~ 92 -> fetchmail fetchmail: No mail for at But looking directly at showed something like 150 messages. Why weren't they sent? After a while I found part of the cause: Jan  2 09:54:27 eureka kernel: pid 5038 (cleanup), uid 125 inumber 4494489 on /: filesystem full That proved to be due to a reconfiguration that had moved the /dump disk and file system from eureka to lagoon.

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 13:00:00 UTC

Tom speaking at the new LOPSA-NJ Montclair Meetup

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I'll be the speaker at LOPSA-NJ/Montclair in February. Hope to see you there! The February meeting will be held at Montclair State University. Topic: Stealing the Best Ideas from DevOps: A Guide for Sysadmins without Developers Speaker: Tom Limoncelli, Date: WEDNESDAY, February 1st, 2017, 7pm (not Thursday) Location: Montclair University, CELS 110, 1 Normal Ave, Montclair, NJ 07043 Talk Description: This talk will present the DevOps principles in terms that apply to all system administrators, and use case studies to explore their use in non-developer environments. DevOps is not a set of tools, nor is it just automating deployments.

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 03:04:47 UTC

Finding things on Google Maps

Posted By Greg Lehey

We're currently watching an Austrian TV series, Der Bergdoktor, inspired by the British series Doc Martin, even down to the name of the hero (Gruber Martin). Unlike the British series, the doctors use modern equipment and methods. Like the British series, it has beautiful scenery, centred round Ellmau in Tirol. And of course I wanted to take a closer look. Problem: like in Germany, Google Street View is greatly restricted in Austria, and there are only panoramas in different places. After clicking on a few at random, I was suddenly attacked by an itch in my back. But I clicked on something, which turned out to be a panoramic view (even pointing in the right direction) of the doctor's house in the film.

Mon, 02 Jan 2017 01:59:04 UTC

Relay board: finally!

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over a month since I got my network-connected relay board, here an image from the vendor: It arrived without any documentation at all, and all my attempts to find out how the thing works have proved less than sufficient. But back at the beginning of last month, I received a message from Daniel Nebdal, who sent a number of links, most of which I knew. But one (a sales page for a Different Quality 8 Channel Relay) included a feedback tab with texts like this, clearly mechanically translated (in this case from Russian): It's, device is working, no documentation on it get to me has not yet succeeded.

Sun, 01 Jan 2017 20:50:01 UTC

As it Happened: Leap Second 37

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis