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Postings for March 2020:  (81 posts)
Sun, 29 Mar 2020 19:15:25 UTC

88 Names podcast (fixed) (for real)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The brilliant writer Matt Ruff just published a new heist novel about gold-farming and MMORPGs called 88 NAMES that’s like Snow Crash meets The King and I: https://boingboing.net/2020/03/17/3d-gen-gold-farmers.html Matt’s doing a podcast about the book with Blake Collier, and I appeared in the latest episode: https://www.riseupdaily.com/88namespodcast/2020/03/28/episode-3/ We cover a lot of ground: “the state of... more

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 16:29:00 UTC

Disinfection of PPE such as N95 respirator masks

Posted By Niels Provos

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 12:10:42 UTC

88 Names podcast (fixed!)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The brilliant writer Matt Ruff just published a new heist novel about gold-farming and MMORPGs called 88 NAMES that’s like Snow Crash meets The King and I: https://boingboing.net/2020/03/17/3d-gen-gold-farmers.html Matt’s doing a podcast about the book with Blake Collier, and I appeared in the latest episode: https://www.riseupdaily.com/88namespodcast/2020/03/28/episode-3/ We cover a lot of ground: “the state of... more

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 01:30:29 UTC

Emacs yellow areas tracked down

Posted By Greg Lehey

While writing yesterday's diary entries, ran into another case of a yellow-stained Emacs buffer. This time I grabbed the lossage: SPC O K , SPC h a c k SPC a r o u n d SPC i n SPC <switch-frame> C-x C-f C-g C-x C-s <help-echo> <M-drag-mouse-2> <M-drag-mouse-3> <switch-frame> <switch-frame> M-x v i e w - l o <tab> <return> Clearly this happened as the result of one or more of <help-echo> <M-drag-mouse-2> <M-drag-mouse-3>. But what do they mean? The drag-mouse events are clear, but <help-echo>?

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 01:11:16 UTC

Communicating by email

Posted By Greg Lehey

My problems with Red Energy yesterday haven't been the only ones where I have problems communicating by email. I've had two others in the last year, first with a company that might be called Resilium, and more recently with Elysian Energy. In all cases, communicating was like pulling teeth. Why? Part of it is clearly the practice of replying to a message in a separate place from the message itself. This is the way it has always been with conventional mail. But when I wrote lots of conventional mail, over 50 years ago, I might have been replying to a multi-page letter, in which case I would have it on the desk next to me.

Sun, 29 Mar 2020 00:38:19 UTC

GPS comparisons, finally

Posted By Greg Lehey

So finally I have made maps from the track logs that I created while travelling to Napoleons on Thursday using GPS Visualizer. They're certainly interesting. First, the whole journey, as logged with taskumatti (my old Nokia 3 phone), flachmann (the new Nokia 5.1 Plus phone) and my old dedicated GPS navigator: I went to Napoleons and returned via the same path, so there should be no loops in the track logs.

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 20:22:01 UTC

88 Names podcast

Posted By Cory Doctorow

The brilliant writer Matt Ruff just published a new heist novel about gold-farming and MMORPGs called 88 NAMES that’s like Snow Crash meets The King and I: https://boingboing.net/2020/03/17/3d-gen-gold-farmers.html Matt’s doing a podcast about the book with Blake Collier, and I appeared in the latest episode: https://www.riseupdaily.com/88namespodcast/2020/03/28/episode-3/ We cover a lot of ground: “the state of... more

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 03:14:27 UTC

GPS comparisons

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been dragging my heels on my GPS receiver comparisons. There's a good reason: it's a pain to access these things. Now that I have file-system like semantics to access the telephones, that's not so bad, but I had forgotten how to access the dedicated unit. The first step is clear: connect the unit to the computer with a USB cable: Mar 27 12:14:13 eureka kernel: ugen0.11: <MStar Semiconductor, Inc.> at usbus0 Mar 27 12:14:13 eureka kernel: umass4: <MStar Semiconductor, Inc. Mass Storage Device, class 0/0, rev 2.00/0.00, addr 17> on usbus0 Mar 27 12:14:13 eureka kernel: umass4:  SCSI over Bulk-Only; quirks = 0xc001 Mar 27 12:14:13 eureka kernel: umass4:7:4:-1: Attached to scbus7 Mar 27 12:14:13 eureka kernel: da4 at umass-sim4 bus 4 scbus7 target 0 lun 0 Mar 27 12:14:13 eureka kernel: da4: <Mstar  > Removable Direct Access SCSI device ...

Sat, 28 Mar 2020 01:46:00 UTC

Weather station pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

My weather station is still having difficulties communicating with the outside unit. That's nothing new: I've had these issues for over 10 years, but for some reason they're getting worse. It's clearly related to the position of the internal unit, and I've been moving it around the office to try to get better communication. The obvious thing to do is to put it in the lounge room. Like that it almost has a line of sight to the external unit, and the internal measurements are more meaningful. That requires connecting the unit to teevee. But for that I had to work my way through these bizarre MySQL permissions, which I still don't understand.

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 04:49:20 UTC

Working from home

Posted By Greg Lehey

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of people are working from home for the first time. And of course lots of other people are trying to sell the solutions to their perceived problems. How-To Geek has many suggestions for The Best Work From Home Apps for iPhone and Android. I only have one: avoid them all. The devices have been optimized for people moving around, to the detriment of use in a single place. One exception comes to mind, though: The 6 Best Free Video Conferencing Apps. I don't have a camera on eureka, and I don't know of anything that would work with FreeBSD.

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 04:41:39 UTC

Another FTP server

Posted By Greg Lehey

Daniel O'Connor pointed me at an alternative FTP server yesterday. FTP? Everything! It's a Servers Ultimate, reminding me that ?ultimate? means ?last?, and that the German translation ?das Letzte? an extremely negative evaluation is. And indeed, it had servers. 5 different FTP servers. What are they all? Of course it's too polite to assume I wouldn't know. Some worked for me, some didn't. But while looking around on their web site, found: This app will work for 7 days after which you will need to buy the paid version. BAD Servers Ultimate.

Fri, 27 Mar 2020 02:59:57 UTC

Nokia 5.1 Plus: yes or no?

Posted By Greg Lehey

So: I've had the Nokia 5.1 Plus for 12 days now. Another 48 days before I need to give it back if I don't like it. What advantages does it have? Why was I even interested in a new phone? The issues I have with the older Nokia 3 are many and varied. The ones that continually irritate me are: Messages that appear on the screen when the display is turned off, then stay for about 4 seconds before disappearing forever.

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 01:51:20 UTC

More mobile phone fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have file access to flachmann, my new Nokia 5.1 Plus, via a file system interface. But it's FTP, not exactly state of the art. How about an HTTP access method? I can access the file system on taskumatti (my old Nokia 3) via HTTP, but not via FTP, using the same app, WiFi File Transfer. OK, off looking. Yes, there's a port fusefs-httpfs, which not only installs, but also produces a message: ===>   NOTICE: The fusefs-httpfs port currently does not have a maintainer. As a result, it is more likely to have unresolved issues, not be up-to-date, or even be removed in the future.

Thu, 26 Mar 2020 01:24:34 UTC

Battery calibration without end

Posted By Greg Lehey

When I got into my office this morning, yesterday's PV battery calibration was still going on: Three complete cycles, and it was continuing into the fourth. When it got to the fully charged state of the fourth, I power cycled the inverter, but it's becoming clear that that won't stop it. Time for a stiffer letter to the suppliers, asking for: As I asked last August, please get me a statement from the manufacturer (not from you) by 10 April answering the questions: How often should this recalibration take place?

Wed, 25 Mar 2020 03:56:52 UTC

File access in the age of Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had my new Nokia 5.1 Plus for 10 days now, and so far the experience has been mixed. I've found a number of apps that seem better than what I have used before, but I'm still running into this frustrating now-you-see-me-now-you-don't message stuff. But that might be a Nokia taunt. One difference is that WiFi File Transfer only provides FTP access, while on the older Nokia 3 it offers HTTP. I've been thinking for some time about my most basic question, last asked when I got the phone: But surely, surely, there is software available for that most basic of network functionality, copying data from one system to another?

Wed, 25 Mar 2020 02:51:36 UTC

File access in the age of Google

Posted By Greg Lehey

Peter Jeremy has given me access to a large collection of files on Google Drive. There must be several terabytes of them. OK, follow the ?invitation? and get a list of names. besplex, epsplex and so on. What are they? My understanding is that they're disk images of some kind, but Google Drive tells me that they're ?Google Drive folders?. What can I do with them? I have no idea. I'd expect to be able to select them show the component files, but I failed in that attempt. Once again, the Google interface is so non-intuitive that I can't make head or tail of them.

Tue, 24 Mar 2020 10:07:52 UTC

Human Race Priorities?

Posted By James Hamilton

I was recently in a super interesting discussion mostly focused on energy efficiency and, as part of the discussion, the claim was raised that Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley was right when he said that Energy was the number one challenge facing our planet. I?m a pretty big believer in energy efficiency and the importance of...

Mon, 23 Mar 2020 22:08:00 UTC

Data ? the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill?

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest podcast is a reading (MP3) of “Data ? the new oil, or potential for a toxic oil spill?” — a column I wrote for Kaspersky in which I argue that data was never “the new oil” ? instead, it was always the new toxic waste: “pluripotent, immortal ? and impossible to contain.” Data... more

Mon, 23 Mar 2020 18:23:00 UTC

Come work with me at Stack Overflow!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

We're hiring! Come join my team at Stack Overflow, Inc. and help maintain one of the most visited websites on the internet! SREs with a Linux and web hosting focus (load balancers, Redis, web servers, etc.) Windows SRE w/focus on Developer Tools: If you know the Microsoft developer ecosystem, love Azure Pipelines + GitHub Actions, and want to help Stack Overflow build the world, apply today. SREs with Azure experience (or equiv) to help run our SaaS version of Stack Overflow Apply at the links!

Mon, 23 Mar 2020 09:43:44 UTC

Shell scripting for personal productivity

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

In an edX course on Unix tools I am running these weeks, I got asked for ideas on how shell scripts can be useful . This is a very interesting question, because the course focuses mainly on performing one-off tasks in the areas of software development, data engineering, and system administration, rather than automation through shell scripts. Here's how I'm using shell scripting to enhance my personal productivity. I'll post further installments regarding software development and system administration.

Mon, 23 Mar 2020 01:34:04 UTC

More GPS navigation fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

My GPS navigator works even worse than before. It reached the end of time a year or so ago, and last month I left it out in the sun (wouldn't you think a navigator could deal with that?) : Since then it doesn't work too well, and I'v ebeen thinking of a replacement for a while. Today's trip to Ballarat was worth another attempt. Off to the toyshop to see what was on offer. I discovered an app already installed: ?Australia Topo Maps?.

Mon, 23 Mar 2020 00:58:42 UTC

OED access in times of COVID-19

Posted By Greg Lehey

I access the Oxford English Dictionary several times a week via the State Library of Victoria. It's convenient and free. Somewhere I have a DVD of the Second Edition, but it's easier via the web. But today I was unable to access the service. ?You could not be signed in. This account has no valid subscription for this site?. Damn. What has gone wrong there? The only credentials I need are the ones I need to access SLV, and they were OK. OK, report a bug? No provision for that on the SLV web site, just ?ask a question?. OK, ?ask a question?, specifying a reason.

Sun, 22 Mar 2020 00:40:35 UTC

Peace!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow the last week has been particularly stressful, and it had its overhang into today: I didn't get yesterday's diary entry committed until 16:54. But that's about all I had to do today. Yes, Yvonne managed to find an interesting bug in avidemux: when saving a clip, if you forget and use the standard Emacs c-x c-s, avidemux does save a clip. But it's not the one you selected: it's the one to the left of the A mark (in other words, the part cut off at the beginning).

Sat, 21 Mar 2020 19:00:00 UTC

Facet: Push vs Pull

Posted By Tim Bray

If you want to process events, you can fetch them from the infrastructure or you can have the infrastructure hand them to you. Neither idea is crazy. [This is part of the Event Facets series.] When you make a request to fetch data, that?s called ?pull?. Which is an off-by-one error; the ?u? should be an ?o? as in ?poll?, because that?s how most network stuff works. I?ve heard old farts of my own vintage claim that on the network, polling is really all there is if you dig in deep enough. But we do use the term ?push?, in which???maybe it?s just an illusion???the infrastructure reaches out and hands the event to you.

Sat, 21 Mar 2020 01:50:16 UTC

NBN breaks promise

Posted By Greg Lehey

Between 0:00 and 6:00 this morning the National Broadband Network had promised not one, but two outages. And there were none! That makes seven weeks with no planned outages, and also none in the immediate future. That's something of a record.

Fri, 20 Mar 2020 20:26:14 UTC

My appearance on Cool Tools

Posted By Cory Doctorow

This week, I appear on the Cool Tools podcast to discuss my favorite, most indispensible gadgets and services and why I love them. https://kk.org/cooltools/cory-doctorow-science-fiction-author/ My top picks were my Crkt Snap-Lock knife – a one-handed-opening, lightweight, super versatile pocket knife that I carry everywhere. https://www.crkt.com/snap-lock.html I also chose my Chinese OEM underwater MP3 player. I... more

Fri, 20 Mar 2020 11:46:22 UTC

What explains the counter-intuitive numbering of chip pins?

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

One of the first things one learns in electronics is how chip pins are numbered. In the common dual in-line package (DIP) pin numbering starts from the left side of a notch appearing on the top of the package and continues counterclockwise until it reaches the other side of the notch. Why are pins counter-intuitively numbered in a rotating fashion rather than by columns as one would expect for a rectangular package? And why is the numbering not following the direction of a clock's numbers? I think that both decisions can be traced back to history.

Fri, 20 Mar 2020 10:16:46 UTC

How Complex Systems Fail

Posted By James Hamilton

This is a simple little article that’s worth reading. I don’t agree with every point made but all 18 are interesting and every one of them leads to some introspection and how it compares with the experiences I have come across. It’s nice and concise with unusually good reading time to value ration. How Complex...

Fri, 20 Mar 2020 02:35:24 UTC

Emacs strangeness

Posted By Greg Lehey

Seen in my calendar this morning: Mar 19  Greg installs BSD/386 0.3.1, 1992 28 years! But that's nothing compared to an editor that I installed some time in 1980, MINCE, a clone of Emacs for the Z-80 microprocessor. And I've been using some form of Emacs ever since (GNU Emacs since 1989). But lately I've been having surprises. I sometimes get areas of the screen marked with a yellow background. Why? What are they? I've done some searching, and most answers on the web seem to reduce to RTFM.

Fri, 20 Mar 2020 01:58:34 UTC

Another NBN outage notification

Posted By Greg Lehey

Recently I had over two weeks with no looming National Broadband Network outages, but last week another came??only? 15 minutes, and in the middle of the night. I can live with that. And then today another one came: NBNCo has let us know that they are planning network maintenance in your area, and that your service at 29 STONES RD, DEREEL VIC will be affected. The details are:   - Start date and time: Fri 20th March 2020 00:00 AEDT   - End date and time: Fri 20th March 2020 06:00 AEDT   - Window: 6.0 hours You may experience the following interruptions during the maintenance   - 90 min Not quite as acceptable, but in the middle of the night, so again, I can live with it.

Thu, 19 Mar 2020 04:00:34 UTC

Android: file access and ringtones

Posted By Greg Lehey

For some reason, my new Nokia 5.1 Plus is only partially compatible with WiFi File Transfer: it doesn't support HTTP connections. On the old Nokia 3 I could connect with a web browser like this: But on the new one (called flachmann now that the old tablet of that name is no longer usable), I need to use FTP: Is that a problem? After using it, I don't think so.

Thu, 19 Mar 2020 01:55:31 UTC

Yet another video editor

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally I have avidemux working, sort of. But it has some irritating habits, and it's clear that it's relatively limited. What else is there? I had already tried kdenlive, running into problems with both performance and interface. Clearly interface is something that I need to get used to, but performance is an issue that might remain. So today Callum Gibson suggested openshot, something that I had been thinking of anyway. To emphasize the suggestion, he pointed to this page, which interestingly enough listed the four best packages (in order) as openshot, kdenlive, shotcut and avidemux. So another reason to try it.

Thu, 19 Mar 2020 01:49:40 UTC

Groggy's ports mistakes

Posted By Greg Lehey

I made a mistake on IRC this morning: * groggyhimself grumbles about ports. Ah, but that's my fault. I'm not just using ports, I'm mixing them with packages. Naughty boy! Is that wrong? I claim not, but others point to configuration differences between my system and the system on which the packages were built. Yes, the dependencies could be different. But that's exactly the point of the dependency database. I'm pretty sure that I'm doing it by the book, with some explicit exceptions, like extracting the package directly without passing "go" and registering with the database.

Wed, 18 Mar 2020 23:12:18 UTC

Data is the new toxic waste

Posted By Cory Doctorow

In a new article for Kaspersky, I argue that data was never “the new oil” – instead, it was always the new toxic waste: “pluripotent, immortal ? and impossible to contain.” https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/secure-futures-magazine/data-new-toxic-waste/34184/ Data breaches are inevitable (any data you collect will probably leak; any data you retain will definitely leak) and cumulative (your company’s data... more

Wed, 18 Mar 2020 00:48:53 UTC

Using avidemux

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now, after only a week, I have a slightly castrated version of avidemux running on lagoon. Tried to show Yvonne how to use it, but failed. Although I had used it before, and though it's relatively sane, I forgot what the symbols mean. On a second attempt I was more successful. But then she tried by herself, trimmed video clips, save them and... they weren't there! After some investigation, discovered that avidemux is just as bad as all this GUI software that has no concept of directory trees. Or maybe almost as bad. You can specify at least one file on the command line, which produces many and varied illegible texts: And the first time round it happily provided the correct directory for saving the output file (/Photos/yvonne/20200317, the same one ...

Tue, 17 Mar 2020 13:16:11 UTC

Installing PyTorch on a Raspberry Pi-3B+ redux

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

This is an update to articles for installing the PyTorch machine learning library on a Raspberry Pi that have been published by Amrit Das in 2018 and Saparna Nair in 2019 . It builds on them by updating the required settings and introducing a fix and a few tweaks to make the process run considerably faster. Although there are Python wheels floating around that offer PyTorch as a Raspberry Pi Python package, downloading them from unverified sources is a security risk. Here's how to install PyTorch from source.

Tue, 17 Mar 2020 01:28:02 UTC

avidemux debugging

Posted By Greg Lehey

So why did my avidemux build fail yesterday? I really need to find out. I had established that it claimed not to be able to find /usr/local/include/X11/X.h, but locate told me that it was there. locate gives a historical view. Was the file really there? === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/multimedia/avidemux-qt5 293 -> locate X11/X.h ... /usr/local/include/X11/X.h === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/multimedia/avidemux-qt5 294 -> l /usr/local/include/X11/X.h ls: /usr/local/include/X11/X.h: No such file or directory Gone! Clearly after the locate database was built. But when, exactly? === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/multimedia/avidemux-qt5 295 -> l -dT /usr/local/include/X11/ drwxr-xr-x  12 root   wheel     2048 14 Mar 12:27:38 2020 /usr/local/include/X11 That looks like the time I was upgrading the ports.

Mon, 16 Mar 2020 22:55:40 UTC

Talking digital writing careers with the Writing Excuses podcast

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Back when cruise ships were a thing, I went out on the Writing Excuses Cruise as an instructor with Mary Robinette Kowal and friends. While there, we recorded an episode of the Writing Excuses podcast. In a mere 25 minutes, we pack in a lot of material: how to break into the field, what a... more

Mon, 16 Mar 2020 16:21:25 UTC

The Masque of the Red Death and Punch Brothers Punch

Posted By Cory Doctorow

As a followup to my last podcast, which featured the Macmillan audiobook of my novella “The Masque of the Red Death”, this week’s podcast starts with a reading of Poe’s original 1842 story, “The Masque of the Red Death. It’s some next-level gothic stuff. As a chaser, I close this week’s podcast with a reading... more

Mon, 16 Mar 2020 00:35:07 UTC

The daily ports pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

By yesterday evening I had managed to install the base avidemux package. Only three more to go. Next I tried avidemux-qt5.

Sun, 15 Mar 2020 22:34:10 UTC

Seven reasons to add Unix command line expertise to your tool chest

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

On Tuesday March 17th 2020 my free online massive open online course (MOOC) on the use of Unix command line tools for data, software, and production engineering goes live on the edX platform. Already more than one thousand participants from around the world have registered for it; you should still be able to enroll through this link . In response to the course's announcement seasoned researchers from around the world have commented that this is an indispensable course and that it is very hard to beat the ROI of acquiring this skillset, both for academia and industry . In an age of shiny IDEs and cool GUI tools, what are the reasons for the enduring utility and popularity of the Unix command line tools?

Sun, 15 Mar 2020 03:47:57 UTC

New mobile phone

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have a new mobile phone, a Nokia 5.1 Plus. Why? I hate mobile phones. But maybe the issue was that my Nokia 3 was just too gutless?only about 100 times the processing power of the Intel 486 that I mentioned in Porting UNIX Software above. That would suggest that it could build the complete X system in 15 seconds. The advantage of the 5.1 Plus is that it's sold by ALDI, so I have two months to play with it, and if I don't like it, I can just return it. Fortunately it doesn't look like this image from Wikipedia, the stuff of my nightmares (keyboards with missing keys): OK, set up.

Sun, 15 Mar 2020 02:04:29 UTC

avidemux on lagoon, next attempt

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne off to Ballarat today for Pilates, so took the opportunity of updating her ports. After (re-)copying the entire root file system to the /destdir partition, ran pkg upgrade. And it just worked! It's nice to see something working as advertised. Then back to install avidemux-qt5. Not found. OK, what do we have? === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) ~ 188 -> pkg search avidemux avidemux-2.6.11_15             Simple GUI based video editor avidemux-cli-2.6.11_9          Simple GUI based video editor (cli) avidemux-plugins-2.6.11_18     Simple GUI based video editor (Plugins) Dammit, that's still the old version!

Sat, 14 Mar 2020 19:00:00 UTC

Plague Advice

Posted By Tim Bray

A couple weeks back ?Social Distancing? would?ve been a Big Thinker?s title in The Times, about the Downside Of Facebook. Now it?s a best practice if you care about flattening the COVID-19 curve and saving grandmothers. I?m a believer; recently I tweeted Cancel Everything and I meant it. But this shouldn?t mean that you can?t go outside; or shop; or photograph. Plague Advice Go outside! Today we went to the Riley Park Winter Farmers Market, eleven blocks away in cold spring sun. Damn it was cold, 5°C at best. But I bought beets.

Sat, 14 Mar 2020 01:09:28 UTC

The Varna ISO C++ meeting is postponed

Posted By Herb Sutter

Yesterday morning, I announced to the committee that the next ISO WG21 (C++) meeting originally planned for June 1-6 in Varna, Bulgaria, has been postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic. We appreciate very much all the hard work and expense that our hosts, VMware and Chaos Group, have invested in welcoming us to their beautiful … Continue reading The Varna ISO C++ meeting is postponed →

Sat, 14 Mar 2020 00:57:37 UTC

The Masque of the Red Death

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Masque of the Red Death” in 1842. It’s about a plutocrat who throws a masked ball in his walled abbey during a plague with the intention of cheating death. My novella “The Masque of the Red Death” is a tribute to Poe; it’s from my book Radicalized. It’s the story... more

Fri, 13 Mar 2020 20:55:50 UTC

When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth

Posted By Cory Doctorow

In this special Covid-19 edition of my podcast, I revisit my end-of-the-world short story When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth, originally published in Baen’s Universe in 2005. Hundreds of people have emailed and tweeted me about this story this week, so I thought it was long overdue that I revisited it (I last read it into... more

Fri, 13 Mar 2020 18:23:00 UTC

Come work with me at Stack Overflow!

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

We're hiring! Come join my team at Stack Overflow, Inc. and help maintain one of the most visited websites on the internet! Azure/Windows/Linux SRE Linux/web infrastructure SRE Apply at the links!

Fri, 13 Mar 2020 01:13:57 UTC

avidemux for lagoon

Posted By Greg Lehey

So finally I have avidemux working on teevee. Now to put it on lagoon for Yvonne. === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) ~ 108 -> pkg install avidemux-qt5 avidemux-cli  avidemux-plugins pkg: No packages available to install matching 'avidemux-qt5' have been found in the repositories === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) ~ 109 -> pkg search avidemux avidemux-2.6.11_15             Simple GUI based video editor avidemux-cli-2.6.11_9          Simple GUI based video editor (cli) avidemux-plugins-2.6.11_18     Simple GUI based video editor (Plugins) Huh? That's exactly what I installed on teevee yesterday: === root@teevee (/dev/pts/7) ~ 115 -> pkg search avidemux avidemux-2.7.4_1               Simple GUI based video editor avidemux-cli-2.7.4             Simple GUI based video editor (cli) avidemux-plugins-2.7.4         Simple GUI based video ...

Thu, 12 Mar 2020 01:21:15 UTC

NBN outages again

Posted By Greg Lehey

We've had 22 days with no threat of an National Broadband Network outage! What joy! Of course, it was too good to last. The next one is on its way:   - Start date and time: Fri 20th March 2020 00:00 AEDT   - End date and time: Fri 20th March 2020 06:00 AEDT   - Window: 6.0 hours You may experience the following interruptions during the maintenance   - 15 min Of course, a 15 minute outage (maybe!) in the middle of the night is almost acceptable.

Thu, 12 Mar 2020 00:48:27 UTC

Video editing: avidemux success!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent most of today writing up my diary entries for yesterday. It paid off, though: while reading what I had collected, I noticed that there were five ports with names starting in avidemux: avidemux, avidemux-cli, avidemux-plugins, avidemux-qt4 and avidemux-qt5. I had already established that I needed avidemux and avidemux-qt5, and had installed avidemux-cli to admire the screen vomit. That leaves avidemux-plugins and avidemux-qt4. Clearly avidemux-qt4 is an older version. And avidemux-plugins? No description, of course, and at first I had thought of it as extras, but what if it's part of the base port? After all, what use is the avidemux port with no executables?

Wed, 11 Mar 2020 15:29:44 UTC

A Lever Without a Fulcrum Is Just a Stick

Posted By Cory Doctorow

For my latest podcast, I read my latest Locus op-ed, A Lever Without a Fulcrum Is Just a Stick, which analyzes why giving creators more copyright hasn’t made them richer, and proposes other kinds of authors’ rights that would translate into real money for real creators. The fact that the company can?t reproduce your book... more

Wed, 11 Mar 2020 10:40:00 UTC

Anandtech on AWS Graviton2

Posted By James Hamilton

Yesterday, Anandtech  published what is, by far, the most detailed write-up on the AWS Graviton2 processor. In this article the author, Andrei Frumusanu, compared the Graviton2 with the AMD EPYC 7571 and the Intel Platinum 8259CL. Worth reading. From Anandtech: Amazon?s Arm-based Graviton2 Against AMD and Intel: Comparing Cloud Compute

Wed, 11 Mar 2020 03:42:38 UTC

Learning

Posted By Greg Lehey

In general, it seems that kdenlive is the most popular editor. It refuses to work over a network, but maybe it would be OK locally. Installed on teevee and tried again. It runs! And produces about 200 lines of error and warning messages on the xterm, for once without trying to change the colour. Presumably this is typical of developers thinking that they can flush their debug messages down the xterm, and is of no further interest. But then it brings a typical confusing error message: Huh?

Wed, 11 Mar 2020 03:42:06 UTC

Rediscovering avidemux

Posted By Greg Lehey

So, FINALLY, I had avidemux-qt5 installed, at round 14:00. Let's run it: The screen seems to be 1920 x 1080 px [destroy] 03:49:21-533  Destroying preview  [renderDisplayResize] 03:49:21-533  Render to 0x0 zoom=1.0000, old one =0 x 0, zoom=1.0000, renderer=0x0  [UI_resize] 03:49:21-534  Resizing the main window to 152x230 px [RDR] Resizing to 0 x 0 [initGUI] 03:49:21-535  OpenGL enabled at built time, checking if we should run it.. What are all those empty lines? Ah, they're not empty, just tastefully set to displaying white foreground on your choice of background. You can mark them, for example, which also makes them visible.

Wed, 11 Mar 2020 01:40:10 UTC

More video editor pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

So first let's try to get the video software that I have to run. It's excruciating for multiple reasons. First another look at avidemux. Why is there no executable? Ah, that's for me to know and you to guess. There are a total of five ports: avidemux, avidemux-cli, avidemux-plugins, avidemux-qt4 and avidemux-qt5. What do the pkg-descrs say? A video editor that allows editing of AVI, OGM, and MPEG videos. The MPEG support provides the ability to convert to DVD compliat PS streams. It contains various filters for deinterlacing, cropping, resizing, etc. Allows for cutting without re-encoding. Has the ability to re-encode and re-sample.

Tue, 10 Mar 2020 19:00:00 UTC

Facet: Broker vs Serverless

Posted By Tim Bray

Your event infrastructure might be a service in the cloud or might be an actual computer (or cluster) you connect to. Both choices are perfectly sensible. The trade-offs? It?s complicated. [This is part of the Event Facets series.] At AWS where I work, our mainstream home-grown services (Kinesis, SQS, SNS) are all serverless. I mean, there are servers, lots of ?em, but you can?t see ?em, there?s just an endpoint that you connect to, usually with HTTP, to produce and consume events. Which should be unsurprising, AWS is built on the proposition that everything should be a service.

Tue, 10 Mar 2020 00:26:13 UTC

More video processing pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

More investigation of the files that I had ripped yesterday. The good news: the audio worked after all; the error messages were just confusion on the part of the player. The bad news: some of the episodes had not been decrypted. As planned, conected up my ancient Digitrex GKX-9000 DVD recorder to the TV monitor today and put in one of the Heartbeat DVDs. It worked and behaved correctly, including providing me with the titles, which none of the software had extracted. OK, how about copying the entire DVD to disk? It proves that vobcopy has a corresponding option: vobcopy -l -m The -l option shouldn't be necessary, but otherwise vobcopy thinks that files can't be larger than 2 GB.

Mon, 09 Mar 2020 19:00:00 UTC

Facet: Point-to-Point vs Pub/Sub

Posted By Tim Bray

When there?s an event in the cloud, how many different receivers can receive it? There are two plausible answers: Just one, or anyone. [This is part of the Event Facets series.] Point-to-point The idea is that any given message can only be read by one receiver. You might imagine that, as the old photo above suggests, the sender supplies an address, choosing the receiver. But that?s actually a pretty rare scenario. What?s much more common is the way that SQS works. In SQS, when you send a message, you have to pick which queue you?re sending it on.

Mon, 09 Mar 2020 01:13:18 UTC

This can take a _long_ time

Posted By Greg Lehey

Julie Donaghy had had some DVDs of Heartbeat for sale yesterday, but we didn't take them: we already have the episodes. But then it occurred to me that the quality of the copies I have is pretty terrible, so for $5 for 17 DVDs (5 seasons) it seemed to make sense. So today Yvonne went off to pick them up. 17 DVDs? She came back with 54! Julie had lent her the complete DVDs for Lost, of which we had never heard, but which Julie says is excellent?IMDB agrees. OK, the usual problem: we don't have a DVD player, so I needed to read them in to disk.

Sun, 08 Mar 2020 19:00:00 UTC

Facet: Deduping

Posted By Tim Bray

When you fire an event into the cloud, can you be sure it?ll only come out again once? It turns out that sometimes they come out more often than they go in. This may or may not be a problem in your application. If it is, there are techniques to help work around it. ?At-least once? This is a phrase you?ll hear a lot when you hang around with eventing/messaging people, (and cloud people generally). Builders work so hard at making sure everything gets delivered that they can end up doing it more than once. How can that happen?

Sat, 07 Mar 2020 20:00:00 UTC

Eventing Facets

Posted By Tim Bray

What happened was, at re:Invent 2019 I gave a talk entitled Moving to Event-Driven Architecture, discussing a list of characteristics that distinguish eventing and messaging services. It was a lot of work pulling the material together and I?ve learned a couple of things since then; thus, welcome to the Eventing Facets blog series, of which this is the hub. It?s going to take a while to fill this out. Eventing or messaging? They?re just labels. If it?s publish-and-subscribe people usually say ?event?; if there?s a designated receiver, ?message?. But there?s a lot of messy ground in between; and in my experience, the software does more or less the same stuff whichever label?s on the cover.

Sat, 07 Mar 2020 20:00:00 UTC

Facet: FIFO

Posted By Tim Bray

When you inject events into the cloud, do you care whether they come out in the same order they went in? If you do, you?ll be asking for ?FIFO? (rhymes with ?Fly, foe!?) (stands for ?First In First Out?) . Some software has it, some doesn?t. [This is part of the Event Facets series.] If you think about it carefully, FIFO is only meaningful when you have a single-threaded sender and a single-threaded receiver; with more than one, who gets to say which message was sent (or received) first? Real-world FIFO semantics.Credit: ?Caravan in the desert.

Fri, 06 Mar 2020 20:42:14 UTC

Audio from the Kelowna Canada Reads event with Sarah Penton

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Last night I sat down for an interview and lively Q&A at the Kelowna Public Library with the CBC’s Sarah Penton as part of the Canada Reads national book prize, for which my book Radicalized is a finalist. Courtney Dickson was kind enough to send me raw audio from the board and to give me... more

Fri, 06 Mar 2020 18:43:14 UTC

What can software developers learn from the Soviet Moon Landing Program?

Posted By Diomidis D. Spinellis

In the twentieth century space race between the Soviet Union and the United States the former started way ahead. In 1957 it launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, and in 1961 it had Yuri Gagarin orbiting the Earth as the first human to space. Yet, when it came to landing a person on the Moon it flopped spectacularly, abandoning its N1 rocket and Soyuz spacecraft program after a series of fiery failures. It turns out that the problems of Soviet program's N1 rocket ? one cased one of the largest artificial non-nuclear explosions in human history ?

Fri, 06 Mar 2020 01:48:38 UTC

PIXIO fail

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne wanted to take another sequence of video clips today using the PIXIO ?Robot Cameraman?. Set it up in place, turned on the beacons... nothing. No power. Further examination showed that it was only beacon 1, which appeared to be completely discharged. Aborted the effort, with considerable growling on Yvonne's part, and put the things on charge. Yes, everything was charged except for beacon 1, which charged normally. What's the issue? Apart from the documented bug with the controller itself (after charging you must power it on, then off again, to avoid immediate self-discharge), I've seen the beacons spontaneously turn on when removed from the charger.

Fri, 06 Mar 2020 00:29:10 UTC

Daily teevee update

Posted By Greg Lehey

The updated teevee is now working well enough for me to be able to use it, but it's still not fixed. What's the story with the keyboard mapping? And why can't I start X from the startup script? For the X problem I tried a solution suggested by this page. Create /etc/X11/Xwrapper.config with this content: allowed_users = anybody Then to investigate the keymap. Clearly I needed the old system to compare with, so rebooted there and saved the keymap with xmodmap -pk. Boot back to the new system.

Thu, 05 Mar 2020 23:23:41 UTC

More NBN outages!

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over two weeks since the perpetual threat of National Broadband Network outages finished. And since then we haven't had any outages! Until today: Duration       from       to (seconds) 494       5 March 2020 14:20:21       5 March 2020 14:28:35 ...

Thu, 05 Mar 2020 01:30:16 UTC

teevee progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

The daily teevee pain today. First, check out a pristine copy of the source tree and build a new world, again, this time with a kernel that divulges when it was built. I've run into this before, but I thought people were going to fix the bugfeature. It took me a while to find this completely non-intuitive setting, only six months ago: create a file with an equally unlike name /etc/src.conf and add: # Don't drop build date, dammit! # What a silly name for the knob. WITHOUT_REPRODUCIBLE_BUILD=dammit Was that the correct syntax?

Thu, 05 Mar 2020 01:19:59 UTC

Nokia 3 ring tones die

Posted By Greg Lehey

Six weeks ago, after upgrading the operating system on my Nokia 3 mobile phone, I discovered that it no longer produced a ring tone for an incoming call. That's basic telephone functionality! It proved only to have disabled my custom tones, so I growled and installed one of their particularly emetic standard tones. But today Yvonne called me from town. Only vibrate. Fortunately I had it in my shirt pocket, so I received it. But now no tone sounded, not even when I tried to select them, something that had previously worked. A bit of searching on the web proved this is not specific to Android 9 (or whatever the silly name is).

Wed, 04 Mar 2020 01:40:42 UTC

teevee build pause

Posted By Greg Lehey

So how do I handle my issues with upgrading teevee? On the face of it, the upgrade process is broken. But why does nobody else complain? Obvious reasons could be that they maybe think it's modern, or that they don't want to make fools of themselves complaining in public: I belong (currently, at least) to the latter group. Other reasons could be: Incompatible boot blocks causing the lua errors and possibly the keyboard bounce.

Tue, 03 Mar 2020 00:54:12 UTC

Shotcut: book with seven seals

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne spent some time this afternoon trying to use shotcut to trim a video clip, with spectacular lack of success. Apart from the fact that the use of the interface is completely at variance with anything I have ever seen, she wasn't even able to save the result. When she tried, all she got was a small XML file. OK, see what I can do. FOOL! You don't save files, you export them. OK, tried that, after finding out how to trim files (simple: take the start and end markers and move them to the point you want?if the markers are displayed, which isn't all the time).

Tue, 03 Mar 2020 00:49:48 UTC

A Lever Without a Fulcrum Is Just a Stick

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Locus column explores what copyright expert Rebecca Giblin calls “The New Copyright Bargain” – a copyright system designed around enriching authors above all, rather rather than treating authors’ incomes as an incidental output of enriching entertainment or tech corporations. The column is called “A Lever Without a Fulcrum is Just a Stick.” Copyright... more

Tue, 03 Mar 2020 00:21:54 UTC

Daily teevee pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

At least one of yesterday's problems with the teevee upgrade, the lua errors, could have been that the source tree was updated between building world and installing world, so built another world today. To boot the new system cleanly, copied the old /boot/lua directory to the new system, and it booted cleanly. But I still had these repeated characters from the keyboard, to the point that I couldn't log in as rooott at all. I had to go to eureka and log in via the net. While I was there, ran make installworld. This time it ran cleanly. Reboot. Those bloody lua messages again!

Mon, 02 Mar 2020 23:49:17 UTC

Upcoming events

Posted By Greg Lehey

Received (barely) yesterday evening: From bounces+wikitree=lemis.com@bounce.geni.com  Sun Mar  1 23:59:44 2020 Date: Sun, 1 Mar 2020 04:59:36 -0800 From: Geni <no-reply@geni.com> Latest Lehey Family updates February 23 - 29 Sunday, February 23 * Yvonne Lehey turns 71 on March 1. Nothing like advance warning, is there? No, this is nothing like advance warning.

Mon, 02 Mar 2020 18:46:13 UTC

Interview with the Firewalls Don?t Stop Dragons podcast (Part II)

Posted By Cory Doctorow

A couple of weeks ago, I posted Part I of my interview with the Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons podcast, a podcast that covers computer security in a way that is accessible to nontechnical people. Carey Parker has posted part II (MP3) of the interview, where we dig into Right to Repair, Adversarial Interoperability, and monopoly... more

Mon, 02 Mar 2020 02:01:12 UTC

eBay notifications

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in the lounge room, logged in to eBay, apparently for the first time in this instance of teevee. That required me to find the email address and the (unflattering) password. And then I got this message: What nonsense is that? Apart from the fact that it doesn't tell me which email address it's talking about (I had to check the mail headers to confirm), I have had that particular address since 6 July 2003. I've been with eBay for over 20 years; when will they finally get their act together?

Mon, 02 Mar 2020 01:21:46 UTC

More teevee upgrade pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally the build for teevee is finished. Reboot. make installworld. Oh: ===> stand/i386/loader_lua (install) installing DIRS BINDIR install  -d -m 0755 -o root  -g wheel  /boot cc -target x86_64-unknown-freebsd12.1 --sysroot=/spool/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp -B/spool/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp/usr/bin  -O2 -pipe   -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/i386/btx/lib -nostdinc -I/spool/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/stand/libsa32 -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/libsa -D_STANDALONE -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/sys -Ddouble=jagged-little-pill -Dfloat=floaty-mcfloatface -ffunction-sections -fdata-sections -DLOADER_GELI_SUPPORT -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/libsa/geli -DLOADER_DISK_SUPPORT -m32 -ffreestanding -mno-mmx -mno-sse -mno-avx -mno-avx2 -msoft-float -march=i386 -I. -Iinclude -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/common -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/lua/src -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/common -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/liblua -DLUA_FLOAT_TYPE=LUA_FLOAT_INT64 -DLOADER_CD9660_SUPPORT -DLOADER_EXT2FS_SUPPORT -DLOADER_MSDOS_SUPPORT -DLOADER_UFS_SUPPORT -DLOADER_GZIP_SUPPORT -DLOADER_BZIP2_SUPPORT -DLOADER_NET_SUPPORT -DLOADER_NFS_SUPPORT -DLOADER_TFTP_SUPPORT -DLOADER_GPT_SUPPORT -DLOADER_MBR_SUPPORT -DLOADER_ZFS_SUPPORT -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/libsa/zfs -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/sys/cddl/boot/zfs -Wall -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/i386 -DLOADER_PREFER_AMD64  -std=gnu99 -Wsystem-headers -Werror -Wno-pointer-sign -Wno-empty-body -Wno-string-plus-int -Wno-unused-const-variable -Wno-tautological-compare -Wno-unused-value -Wno-parentheses-equality -Wno-unused-function -Wno-enum-conversion -Wno-unused-local-typedef -Wno-address-of-packed-member -Wno-switch -Wno-switch-enum -Wno-knr-promoted-parameter -Wno-parentheses  -Oz -Qunused-arguments -DLUA_PATH=\"/boot/lua\" -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/libexec/flua/modules ERROR-tried-to-rebuild-during-make-install -c /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/stand/common/interp_lua.c -o interp_lua.o cc: error: no such file or directory: 'ERROR-tried-to-rebuild-during-make-install' *** Error code 1 What's that?

Mon, 02 Mar 2020 01:18:41 UTC

Carry a camera!

Posted By Greg Lehey

In the 1960s some organization in the UK brought out the slogan ?Carry a camera?, and I certainly did what I could to adhere to it. Things haven't changed that much, and when we went to the vets I brought two cameras?and left them in the car! So when I took the photos of Leonid, I had to use my phone. The results are correspondingly terrible. I could at least have brought my bag with the E-PM2.

Sun, 01 Mar 2020 20:43:21 UTC

Disasters Don?t Have to End in Dystopias

Posted By Cory Doctorow

For my latest podcast, I read my 2017 Wired op-ed, Disasters Don?t Have to End in Dystopias, a discussion of the themes in my novel Walkaway. The thesis is that our estimations of probability of danger are unduly influenced by our ability to vividly imagine that danger (this is called the “availability heuristic”), so stories... more

Sun, 01 Mar 2020 00:36:24 UTC

teevee upgrade

Posted By Greg Lehey

OK, time for action on teevee. I still have two root partitions, so given the issues I have, maybe the idea of alternating them isn't such a bad idea after all. Copied one to the other, remembered to update /boot/loader.conf on the first partition to point to the second: Then reboot. Oh. Forgot to update /etc/fstab on the second partition, so I ended up mounting the first partition after all. Reboot, run pkg upgrade on the second partition. Number of packages to be installed: 62 Number of packages to be upgraded: 433 Number of packages to be reinstalled: 70 How long since the last upgrade?