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                           (  (                  /\
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  /  \  /\/    \//_____\       \ |[]|     \
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/      \      /XXXXXXXXXX\                  \
        \    /_I_II  I__I_\__________________\
               I_I|  I__I_____[]_|_[]_____I
               I_II  I__I_____[]_|_[]_____I
               I II__I  I     XXXXXXX     I
            ~~~~~"   "~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Fri, 13 Dec 2019

On 16 Years of Blogging

Congrats to 'The Boston Diaries' on 20 years of blogging [0]. It's even more amazing that that 20 years is available all in one place. I had to go into the wayback machine to figure out that my first blog post was on 12/19/2003 - so almost 16 years. I won't link to it as all my early blogging was not pseudonymous, but back then it was all technical topics on Linux and network security. I also switched platforms a lot. At first, I was using geeklog on a hosted server, which lasted two years (I was pleasantly surprised to see that geeklog is still around [1]). I then moved to self-hosted wordpress, then blogger (yeah, I have no idea either), then again to my own VPS with a custom install of pyblosxom. That takes me up to 2012, after which I pretty much stopped doing any sort of tech blogging. I did, however, maintain a gopher phlog [2] and motd site on and off from 2009 until now, but more on general life stuff than pure technical howtos.

On formats - I wrote most of my early blog entries in HTML. My SDF motd site is the same - HTML entries, and I wrote a perl script to convert them to a text format suitable for phlogging, which is why many of the motd articles can be seen in the phlog. In retrospect, markdown would have been an easier way to go (I had to check, markdown has been around since 2004). Writing raw HTML can be a chore, and markdown can be used as-is for phlog entries, no translation required.

What's interesting is that early on, I wrote mainly for an audience. I wanted other people to read what I wrote and comment on it or otherwise get some use out of it. I also wanted to dig up consulting business, and I always thought an online technical presence was the best way to do that. Nowadays I don't care about any of that and write largely for myself, although I do like to comment on other phlogs/blogs and in that way be part of a virtual conversation.

posted at: 20:30 | path: / | permalink | blog, gopher, meta, phlog

Fri, 06 Dec 2019

Corporate Surveillance

The EFF has a very informative article on corporate surveillance in all its forms - on the web and in real life [0]. It's long but well worth reading. A lot of it won't be new to many of us on the small internet, at least in concept. I was certainly aware that all these forms of tracking existed, but I learned things I did not know about how the various methods work and the lengths the data brokers will go to tie behavioral data to a real person.

posted at: 23:01 | path: / | permalink | eff, fascism, privacy, surveillance

Sat, 30 Nov 2019

Recent Reads

I've been reading a lot lately, work has been crazy and I find leaving myself an hour before bed to read does wonders to relax me so I can sleep. Historical fiction has always been a favorite of mine, recently I finished up Ken Follett's [0] Kingsbridge trilogy. I read the first novel in the series (The Pillars of the Earth) in 2018, and just finished the other two. They are not light books (1000+ pages each) but are so engrossing you hardly notice how long they are. I highly recommend them for any fans of historical fiction, in particular early European history. All three books span a period of 500 years, the 12th - 17th centuries.

I have some of Follett's other books on my shelf to read, but am taking a detour into techno-thrillers by way of William Hertling's [1] Singularity series. I've read the first book, Avogrado Corp, and am in the middle of the second, AI Apocalypse. These are quick and enjoyable reads (250-300 pages each) that will appeal to most hardcore geeks.

posted at: 12:45 | path: / | permalink | books, follett, hertling, reads

Mon, 02 Sep 2019

Using Rlwrap With Ed

There are a few good tutorials on the 'ed' editor floating around gopherspace, the one I've most recently seen is from KatolaZ [0][1]. It's nice and simple, but I find the actual line editing a bit sparse - neither the GNU nor BSD versions of ed are linked with GNU readline, so you don't have access to the usual arrow, ctrl-a, ctrl-e, alt-d, etc. keys. But it's really easy to add this functionality, using 'rlwrap', like so:

rlwrap ed

Obviously you might need to install rlwrap, but it is packaged for many linux distros as well as BSDs. I have a shell alias setup for it:

alias ed='/usr/local/bin/rlwrap /bin/ed'

posted at: 11:33 | path: / | permalink | ed, rlwrap, tips

Tue, 27 Aug 2019

Consume Less, Create More

Shane posted an essay by an unknown author, "Consume Less, Create More" [0][1]. It is an inspiring essay. I've been aware of the relationship between my overall happiness and how much I create for some time, in my case my main source of creativity is the material I create for the D&D games I run, supplemented by journal/blog/phlog writing. Which brings to mind another point - you don't need to create for anyone but yourself. Creating is harder if you are constantly worrying what others might think of your creations.

Also, this quote is insightful:

Smartphones, I've decided, are not evil. This entire essay was composed on an iPhone. What evil is passive consumption, in all its forms.

There are many things to demonize about smartphones in this day and age (mainly revolving around security and privacy), still they are useful at times. I never considered actually writing an essay on a smartphone, but in the context the author describes (daily bus rides), it seems like a great use of the device.

EDIT: Alex Schroeder linked to the original source [2] with more comments of his own [3][4].

Thus, the audience is small, and I'm mainly doing it for myself. I think that's how I keep our sanity.

posted at: 23:10 | path: / | permalink | consumer, creativity, mobile, smartphone

Sat, 24 Aug 2019

Crappy Cellular

My wife and I were discussing how our efforts to improve at French are hampered by the crappy quality of cellular voice calls. We don't notice it when calls in English are of bad quality, my guess is our brains interpolate and fill in any missing words for us - but in French, the poor quality is obvious and makes it impossible to understand the full meaning of what someone is saying. Voicemails seem to be particularly bad. We listened to one left in French yesterday from our local bike shop where every other word was unintelligible, as if the guy had a mouthful of marbles. My suspicion is that the cell carriers are double-compressing the audio - once as normal during the original call and once again when the voice message is stored. When you play it back it gets compressed yet again. It's worse that we're both old enough to remember when phone call quality did not suck. It all makes me want to go back to a landline and tape-based answering machine.

posted at: 03:30 | path: / | permalink | cellular, compression, mobile, voip

Wed, 14 Aug 2019

Privacy is Dead

I was listening to a news radio story about a woman who tried to divorce herself completely from the big five tech companies (you can guess which ones), which did not go well. She found it was effectively impossible, given the hold these companies have on the internet. Many of us here in the gopher underground or on the small internet have done the same, but really how effective is it?

read more after the break...

posted at: 02:12 | path: / | permalink | big5, data, email, privacy, social

Sat, 11 May 2019

Devuan to the Rescue

I mentioned a while back that I was fed-up with systemd [0], and was considering installing Devuan [1] on my personal mail server. I finally did just that and I have to say it has given me reason to like Debian again (by way of Devuan of course). As far as I can tell, Devuan ASCII is indistinguishable from Debian 9, minus the systemd virus.

Systemd led me to give up on Debian, after being a hard-core user since the Slink/Potato days. While my desktop or laptop OS'es tend to vary with my interest at any given time (I've played with lots of GNU/Linux distros plus the three big BSDs at one time or another), my own servers run Debian stable. And back when I did consulting, if given the choice, I would always recommend that my clients use it also (the one exception was in the area of firewalls, where I would recommend OpenBSD). So it's nice to see what many of us consider and know as Debian continue to be developed and supported. Every once in a while I read about problems keeping systemd from infecting software on the remaining sensible GNU/Linux distros, and I hope it does not become impossible.

posted at: 14:40 | path: / | permalink | debian, devuan, email, systemd

Tue, 26 Feb 2019

Native Gopher in Firefox

I was able to get gopher working again in Firefox using OverbiteNX [0], which basically allows native gopher rendering using an external network service. It's not hard - just a two-step install, one for the extension and one manual install of the network service called Onyx [1]. It's nice to browse gopher in Firefox now and again and not have to worry about rendering images or other binary formats. I find it preferable to using one of the gopher-to-web proxies, which don't correctly render all gopher sites.

posted at: 10:34 | path: / | permalink | firefox, gopher, overbitenx

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