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Updated: 48 min 27 sec ago

Jonathan McDowell: Cup!

Thu, 08/01/2015 - 14:58

I got a belated Christmas present today. Thanks Jo + Simon!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

MJ Ray: Social Network Wishlist

Thu, 08/01/2015 - 05:10

All I want for 2015 is a Free/Open Source Software social network which is:

  • easy to register on (no reCaptcha disability-discriminator or similar, a simple openID, activation emails that actually arrive);
  • has an email help address or online support or phone number or something other than the website which can be used if the registration system causes a problem;
  • can email when things happen that I might be interested in;
  • can email me summaries of what’s happened last week/month in case they don’t know what they’re interested in;
  • doesn’t email me too much (but this is rare);
  • interacts well with other websites (allows long-term members to post links, sends trackbacks or pingbacks to let the remote site know we’re talking about them, makes it easy for us to dent/tweet/link to the forum nicely, and so on);
  • isn’t full of spam (has limits on link-posting, moderators are contactable/accountable and so on, and the software gives them decent anti-spam tools);
  • lets me back up my data;
  • is friendly and welcoming and trolls are kept in check.

Is this too much to ask for? Does it exist already?

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Chris Lamb: Web scraping: Let's move on

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 19:53

Every few days, someone publishes a new guide, tutorial, library or framework about web scraping, the practice of extracting information from websites where an API is either not provided or is otherwise incomplete.

However, I find these resources fundamentally deceptive — the arduous parts of "real world" scraping simply aren't in the parsing and extraction of data from the target page, the typical focus of these articles.

The difficulties are invariably in "post-processing"; working around incomplete data on the page, handling errors gracefully and retrying in some (but not all) situations, keeping on top of layout/URL/data changes to the target site, not hitting your target site too often, logging into the target site if necessary and rotating credentials and IP addresses, respecting robots.txt, target site being utterly braindead, keeping users meaningfully informed of scraping progress if they are waiting of it, target site adding and removing data resulting in a null-leaning database schema, sane parallelisation in the presence of prioritisation of important requests, difficulties in monitoring a scraping system due to its implicitly non-deterministic nature, and general problems associated with long-running background processes in web stacks.

Et cetera.

In other words, extracting the right text on the page is the easiest and trivial part by far, with little practical difference between an admittedly cute jQuery-esque parsing library or even just using a blunt regular expression.

It would be quixotic to simply retort that sites should provide "proper" APIs but I would love to see more attempts at solutions that go beyond the superficial.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Pinally

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 01:03

I've finally found a real, practical use for my Raspberry Pi: it's an always-on machine that I can ssh to and use to wake up my home media server :)

It doubles as yet another syncthing client to add to my set.

And of course, it's running Arch ;)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Keychain and GnuPG >= 2.1

Fri, 02/01/2015 - 16:48

A while ago, I started using keychain to manage my ssh and gpg agents. I did this with the following in my .bashrc

# Start ssh-agent eval $(keychain --quiet --eval id_rsa)

Recently, arch updated gpg to version 2.1.1 which, as per the announcement, no longer requires the GPG_AGENT_INFO environment variable.

Unfortunately, tools like keychain don't know about that and still expect it to be set, leading to some annoying breakage.

My fix is a quick and dirty one; I appended the following to .bashrc

export GPG_AGENT_INFO=~/.gnupg/S.gpg-agent:$(pidof gpg-agent):1

:)

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Engledow (stilvoid): TODO

Fri, 02/01/2015 - 13:58

Here's this year's TODO diff as compared with last year.

New Year's Resolutions
  • Read even more (fiction and non-fiction)

  • Write at least one short story

  • Write some more games

  • Go horse riding

  • Learn some more turkish

  • Play a lot more guitar

    I did this but want to do more!

  • Lose at least a stone (in weight, from myself)

    I almost did this and then put it all back on again

  • Try to be less of a pedant (except when it's funny)

  • Try to be more funny ;)

    I'm sure I've achieved these ;)

  • Receive a lot less email

    In particularly, unsubscrive from things I don't read

  • Blog more

    Particularly about technical subjects

  • Write more software

  • Release more software

  • Be a better husband and father

    I think I'm doing alright but I'm sure I can do better

  • Improve or replace the engine I use for my blog

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Chris Lamb: Goals

Thu, 01/01/2015 - 22:36

Dr. Guy Winch:

We used to think that happiness is based on succeeding at our goals, but it turns out not so much.

Most marathon runners, for example — not professionals but the amateur runners — their high for completing the marathon usually disappears even before their nipples stop bleeding.

My point is that the high lasts for a very short amount of time. If you track where people's happiness and satisfaction is, it is in "getting" or in making progress towards our goals. It's a more satisfying, life-affirming, motivating and happy thing than actually reaching them.

So it's a great thing to keep in mind... Health, for example. When you define health as something you want to do, living your life and looking back on the week and saying "That was a healthy week for me: I worked out this number of times, I did this amount of push-ups, I ate reasonably most of the time..." that's very satisfying and that's where you'll feel happy about yourself. And if you're too focused on a scale for some reason, then that's an external thing that you'll hit... and then what?

So it is about creating goals that are longer lasting and really focusing on the journey because that's really where we get our happiness and our satisfaction. Once it's achieved... now what?

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Chris Lamb: 2014: Selected highlights

Wed, 31/12/2014 - 18:23

Previously: 2012 & 2013.


January

Was lent a 15-course baroque lute.

February

Grandpa's funeral. In December he was posthumously awarded the Ushakov Medal (pictured) for his service in the Royal Navy's Arctic Convoys during the Second World War.

March

A lot of triathlon training but also got back into cooking.

April

Returned to the Cambridge Duathlon.

May

Raced 50 and 100 mile cycling time trials & visited the Stratford Olympic pool (pictured).

June

Ironman Austria.

July

Paced my sister at the Downtow-Upflow Half-marathon. Also released the first version of the Strava Enhancement Suite.

August

Visited Cornwall for my cousin's wedding (pictured). Another month for sport including my first ultramarathon and my first sub-20 minute 5k.

September

Entered a London—Oxford—London cycling brevet, my longest single-ride to date (269 km). Also visited the Tour of Britain and the Sri Chomnoy 24-hour endurance race.

October

London—Paris—London cycling tour (588 km).

November

Performed Handel's Messiah in Kettering.

December

Left Thread.com.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

MJ Ray: GPG Transition Statement

Tue, 30/12/2014 - 11:34

Rather late but I guess that just confirms it’s really me, right? The signed text and IDs should be at http://mjr.towers.org.uk/transition-statement.txt

Thank you if you help me out here I’ll resign keys in a while.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Chris Lamb: find(1), trailing slashes and symbolic links to directories

Thu, 25/12/2014 - 00:06

Here's a nice little "gotcha" in find(1).

First, let's create a directory and a symlink to that directory. We'll add an empty file just underneath to illustrate what is going on:

$ mkdir a $ ln -s a b $ touch a/file

If we invoke find with a trailing slash, everything works as expected:

$ find a/ a/ a/file $ find b/ b/ b/file

... but if we omit the trailing slash, find does not traverse the symlink:

$ find a a a/file $ find b b

This implies that any normal-looking invokation of find such as:

find /path/to/dir -name 'somefile.ext' ...

... is subtly buggy as it won't accomodate the sysadmin replacing that path with a symlink.

This is, of course, well-covered in the find(1) manpage (spoiler: the safest option is to specify -H, or simply to append the trailing slash), but I would still class this as a "gotcha" because of the subtle difference between the trailing and non-trailing slash variants.

Putting it another way, it's completely reasonable that find doesn't follow symlinks, but when this behaviour based on the presence of the trailing slash—a usually meaningless syntactic distinction—it crosses the rubicon to being counter-intutive.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Chris Lamb: 8:20AM. Sunday, 22 December 2013

Wed, 24/12/2014 - 21:39

Running east into the sun, he hadn't seen another human for over half an hour. He navigates Westferry Circus and heads south, cutting from the road through to the riverside pathway. He keeps is breathing steady - no reason to hurry.

The wind catches him from Westminster. It smells slightly salty but it's an ersatz attempt, nowhere near bracing enough to be a real sea breeze.

Pressing on, the vacant citadel of Canary Wharf disappears behind him. But as the peninsula curves around, a man appears in the distance. Even half a mile away he looks out of place, or rather—given the hour—time. He's walking purposefully, but it doesn't feel the kind of route someone would be taking to work. He's not wearing quite enough clothes for the weather either, and homeless people are rarely made to feel welcome in the Docklands. His supermarket denim visibly flaps in the breeze. "Relaxed fit", they call it.

When he gets within earshot the man cocks his head, not expecting to hear the regular cadence of approaching footsteps. He turns slightly to reveal he's cradling a large bottle of Coca-Cola, meekly wrapped in the swathing bands of two anonymously blue corner-shop plastic bags.

The runner eyes the Coke greedily but can quickly see that it has already been opened, tainted. Although only a mouthful or so has gone, a brown froth sloshes against the top of the container. Amateur, he thinks. He'll regret that later.

He looks back up to the man, who is now smiling at him. His left hand bccomes visible as he strides: a four-pack of Carling. The man laughs.

"Oh, you and me mate are worlds apart!" the man shouts.

It's immediately friendly. He starts to raise his Carling as but thinks better of it. It's momentarily awkward.

"Worlds apart mate", the man continues. "Have a good one!"

The runner smiles back.

Only in time, the runner thinks. They both can't stop.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Mick Morgan: merry christmas 2014

Wed, 24/12/2014 - 19:26

As I have noted before, 24 December is trivia’s birthday. Since my first post dates from 24 December 2006, today is trivia’s eighth birthday. It seems like only yesterday.

I haven’t posted much in the last few months. I have a lot of material I need to cover, and a backlog of articles I want (or at least wanted) to write so I will endeavour to get back into a writing routine as soon as I can. Meanwhile, since it is yet again christmas time, and it’s trivia’s birthday, I couldn’t let today pass unblogged.

Let’s hope 2015 brings all that you wish for.

Best Wishes

Mick

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Mick Morgan: solidarity with the tor project

Sat, 13/12/2014 - 20:16

On Thursday 11 December, Roger Dingledine of the Tor project posted the following email to the “tor-talk” mail list (to which I am subscribed).

I’d like to draw your attention to

https://blog.torproject.org/blog/solidarity-against-online-harassment
https://twitter.com/torproject/status/543154161236586496

One of our colleagues has been the target of a sustained campaign of harassment for the past several months. We have decided to publish this statement to publicly declare our support for her, for every member of our organization, and for every member of our community who experiences this harassment. She is not alone and her experience has catalyzed us to action. This statement is a start.

Roger asked those who deplored on-line harassment (of any person, for any reason) and who supported the Tor project’s action in publicly condemning the harassment of one of the Tor developers to add their name and voice to the blog post.

I am proud to have done so.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Ben Francis: The Times They Are A Changin’ (Open Web Remix)

Thu, 11/12/2014 - 12:26

In the run up to the “Mozlandia” work week in Portland, and in reflection of the last three years of the Firefox OS project, for a bit of fun I’ve reworked a Bob Dylan song to celebrate our incredible journey so far.

Here’s a video featuring some of my memories from the last three years, with Siobhan (my fiancée) and me singing the song at you! There are even lyrics so you can sing along

“Keep on rockin’ the free web” — Potch

Categories: LUG Community Blogs