local

Stuff posted in this site by me.

For want of a nail…

‘k, so in a previous post I wrote how I reworked my note-taking and went back to plain text. I had to make a few changes since then:

  • I couldn’t take the atrocious UI of Epsilon Notes any longer. Fucken’a. I just accessed my notes directly through the Nextcloud app and that worked well enough.
  • Vimwiki is working quite nicely, just wish it didn’t fuck with the filetype highlighting but the built-in works well enough. Better concealment of links would be nice too.

Switched out Epsilon for Markor, which is prettier and less of a pain in the ass. But trying to set it up is when I started running into an issue with Nextcloud:

It does not support bidirectional folder sync. At all.

The way Nextcloud syncs everything means you have to access your files through the Nextcloud app instead of being able to use your usual app to open a file. It’s not that much of a change but it does prove annoying because that change is forced on you by the application instead of you (the user) adjusting your workflow organically. People have been requesting this ability since 2016 and the app still doesn’t have it.

When I was using Dropbox as my syncing backend my workflow would be like this:

  1. Mark KeePass file as a favorite in Dropbox.
  2. Dropbox syncs the file to all devices so it’s available through the filesystem itself.
  3. As the file is now stored in a local filesystem you can now navigate to it as you usually would:
    • On desktop you can use a file manager to view the file and open it. Alternatively you can use KeePass to navigate to the file and open it.
    • On Android you can open your keepass app, navigate to the database file, and open it.
    • On iOS the same flow as Android applies.
  4. Should the file change Dropbox will sync it silently in the background to all devices. Password applications will notice the change and ask if you want to reload.

With Nextcloud it goes something like this:

  1. Mark KeePass file as a favorite in Nextcloud.
  2. Nextcloud will sync the file to desktop clients but only mark it as a favorite in mobile devices.
  3. You now have a split flow as the file will be available through the local filesystem on desktop but not on mobile:
    • On desktop you use a file manager, or use KeePass itself. Same UX as you would in Dropbox.
    • On Android you need to open the Nextcloud app, navigate to the database file and the OS will recognize the filetype and open it. You can’t use your password app directly as the file does not exist in any local filesystem. When Android terminates your password app and you then have to reload the file through the Nextcloud app.
    • On iOS it looks like you can select which folders to sync to local filesystem. I haven’t tried using the iOS app myself but if someone can confirm this is the behavior it’d be awesome.
  4. Should the file change Nextcloud will sync it silently in the background but behavior will vary depending on platform:
    • Desktop: File is available through local filesystem. Password applications will notice the change and ask if you want to reload.
    • Android: You go through the Nextcloud app, same as before. Trying to use a password app will result in the app telling you the file doesn’t exist, so you then have to go through the Nextcloud app.
    • iOS: I’m not sure what the behavior is. I’d assume it’s the same as on desktop.

To replicate the default desktop behavior (syncing to local filesystem) you end up having to use other apps like FolderSync. This way files and folders are available just like any other file on the Android device, letting you use automation or customization apps without issues, and saving you from having to configure syncronization settings for each app. Looking at you, Joplin.

My suspicion is Nextcloud developers are doing it this way to increase your awareness of the brand and the application, following the footsteps of Dropbox. For the longest time Dropbox was a rock-solid syncing application that did one thing and it did it really well, but now they’re trying to force changes nobody likes in an effort to make more money.

If this is indeed the case Nextcloud developers are learning all the wrong lessons from Dropbox’ failure to understand what it had. Instead of strenghtening its core they’re throwing a million other things at the wall to see what sticks:

  • Talk: Chat server, basically. There’s already plenty of those already available and I don’t see them supplanting IRC, Discord, or Slack. Ever. Nevermind Zoom or Jitsi.
  • Deck: Project management? There are better apps for that that are easier to configure, manage and secure.
  • Notes: There are a myriad note taking applications out there that work better. I don’t need yet another one.
  • Passwords: Again, there are better alternatives: KeePass, 1Password, LastPass.

Nextcloud has a chance to do that one thing well and do it better than Dropbox ever did— that is, file syncing. I feel they’re consciously choosing to throw it away because they want to get a bit more clout and a bit more money. If they keep at it they’re going to end up like Mozilla.

Organize album order in Flickr

I like Flickr. I have been a paying user for years, since the heady days of Web 2.0. Very photo, so web.

But their documentation fucking sucks. It went down in quality when Yahoo took over, and SmugMug isn’t doing much better. But anyway.

Here’s how to reorganize the order in which albums in the Flickr mobile app show up:

  1. Log in to Flickr on the web
  2. Go to the Albums & Collections section of the Organizr.
  3. At the top of the page make sure Viewing: All Albums is selected.
    Flickr Album Organizr
  4. On the right panel order the albums whichever way you want.

Making this change will have effect in two places:
– The Albums page on the web
Flickr Album page on website

  • The Albums page in the mobile App.
    Flickr Album page on Android mobile app

Neither the Flickr Help Center nor the Help Forum have any posts about this. Now, I’m using the Android app but I assume the iOS-based versions will also follow the ordering set in the Organizr panel.

I wish Flickr enabled a few things:
– Sorting by album metadata (alphabetically, album creation date)
– Sorting by picture metadata (make bigger/smaller albums show up first/last). This would include sorting by last album upload, so albums used the most get shown first.
– Make Collections a first-class citizen on the site. They’ve been relegated as a little used organization tool that no one uses and when it does get used it isn’t showcased.

Flickr has so much to win now that Instagram is being integrated ever more into facebook’s grubby infrastructure.

Hoist the flag

Pirate Care is a research process – primarily based in the transnational European space – that maps the increasingly present forms of activism at the intersection of “care” and “piracy”, which in new and interesting ways are trying to intervene in one of the most important challenges of our time, that is, the ‘crisis of care’ in all its multiple and interconnected dimensions.

Source: Pirate Care – Pirate Care

This is a worthy goal. Piracy not for the sake of avoiding to pay for things, but rather as a way to learn about the world and its processes when the entities in power would prefer you not to— whether they be people, corporations, or governments. For these entities any form of non-compliance is to be crushed and its practitioners made customers of the carceral industry.

Got me a new hoodie too!

The Mississippi Park Connection says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will lower the water level on the river immediately below St. Anthony Falls so it can inspect the infrastructure that’s normally underwater.

Source: Rare chance to see what the Mississippi River in Minneapolis looked like before the dam – Bring Me The News

This looks to be special! I’m going to be right there freezing my ass off to see this.

JK you’ll be poor even if you attend

Schools often run deficits in normal times; in 2019, nearly 1,000 private colleges were already borderline insolvent. Covid will cause many to shutter for good. It is accounting, not epidemiology, that drives university administrators to push for a rapid return to business as usual, effectively demanding that faculty and staff sacrifice their lives for the financial health of their employer.

Source: The End of the University | The New Republic

You can attend college, the price is death.

Or you could not attend college, in which case the price is poverty.

No change, no peace

As the historian Barry A. Crouch recounts in The Dance of Freedom, Ruby warned that the formerly enslaved were beset by the “fiendish lawlessness of the whites who murder and outrage the free people with the same indifference as displayed in the killing of snakes or other venomous reptiles,” and that “terrorism engendered by the brutal and murderous acts of the inhabitants, mostly rebels,” was preventing the freedmen from so much as building schools.

Source: What Black Lives Matter Has Accomplished – The Atlantic

The Orange Maggaot calls people who support BLM “thugs”, “criminals”, “terrorists”, saying he’ll impose Law and Order however necessary.

White people have always been the one to terrorize their communities, and those of people they don’t deem acceptable.

The cold cultural war heats up.

Closing quickly, for that matter.

Social networks are universally more restrictive than web pages but also more fun in significant ways, chief amongst them being that more people can participate. What if the rest of the web have that simplicity and immediacy, but without the centralization? What if we could start over?

Source: A clean start for the web – macwright.com

Mozilla is knowingly walking away from any of these options because they’re bitter they could not come to dominate the Web after Firefox helped bring about the downfall of Internet Explorer. Big Tech will not support a reimagining of what the web could be since it will mean less profits. Can’t have that in a capitalist society, now can we?

There’s hope now that the Servo engine is cut loose, but the time window to avoid having a technological cycle (about 30 years or so) be dominated by corporations is closing.

I’m not a predator looking for them either

This article suggests a few techniques for finding personal websites on the Internet.

Source: Hunting the Nearly-Invisible Personal Website

I’m here and I’m not being that quiet either.

It’s not that I’m invisible. It’s that we don’t even figure into the Peasant Internet anymore(1) even though there’s a lot of activity on the twitters, facebooks, and instagrams of this here planet.

(1) Peasant Internet: Those who surf the waves thinking they’re safe in the embrace of social media or corporate firewalls.

Tacaño

The last valid comment on this here blargh was in 2008, even though the blog had been running for longer than that.

Time flies when you’re doing other things.

Mind your own business

Anyone who knows me knows that I was among the biggest Apple Evangelists to ever live. Apple was in my DNA.  I believed in Apple’s products, Apple’s services, and Apple’s mission (or at least what …

Source: Dear Apple: Your Services Are No Longer Required. | Low End Mac

I agree with everything they say but this entire fucken thing could have been avoided if someone hadn’t been a nosy person.

I thought of using stronger language but hopefully she knows what her stupidity begat.

Shadow cities, rising

I love NYC. When I first moved to NYC, it was a dream come true. Every corner was like a theater production happening right in front of me. So much personality, so many stories.  Every subculture I loved was in NYC. I could play chess all day and night. I could go to comedy clubs. […]

Source: NYC Is Dead Forever… Here’s Why – James Altucher

Is NYC truly over? For the longest time it was the place to be in this entire planet but now it certainly feels like it’s spiraling downwards, and we say this from my relatively comfortable perch in the Midwest, which does have problems of its own.

City government is still throwing billions into its police department even though nobody living in the city wants that anymore. Nobody likes De Blasio, who keeps thinking salvation will come from somewhere even though Trump has repeatedly said he’s more than willing to let NYC die. NY state government have their own issues, which depend a lot on the economic might of the city. Landlords are about to start throwing themselves off roofs—let them, no one stop them!

It reminds us of Tijuana when I arrived there so long ago. I was told Avenida Revolucion would be teeming with people, people who would be drinking, laughing, partying; usually loud boisterus Americans, yes, but they’d bring along people from all over the world. It all came crashing down on 9/11 and the economy of the city took a big hit when the border closed entirely. After that, there would only be light crowds and those usually on the weekends.

We worked on La Revo for years. We remember. It took nearly a decade for the city to recover, and then that stopped with the cartel drug wars.

Reading this article about NYC reminds me of all of that. It also takes into account the availability of broadband for most everyone, which changes things when you can do your job from anywhere on the planet that has the bandwidth to let you.

Other cities are suffering from the same issues. London is seeing this compounded by Brexit. Hong Kong, compounded by the hostile takeover by PRC. San Francisco, compounded by sky-high rents. With broadband you don’t have to deal with any of these issues; You can now have your dream house in the country and have good wifi.

NYC will recover first but it will take decades.

Never write documentation hangry, e.g. this post

I find I Love MDN demeaning to technical writers. It reminds me of breaking into spontaneous applause for our courageous health workers instead of funding them properly so they can do their jobs.

Source: I Love MDN, or the cult of the free in action – QuirksBlog

Another article related to the fall of Mozilla. Back in the day we relied heavily on quirksmode.org and doing that sort of data mining, collating, writing and publishing is not easy. For a while myself helped out writing documentation for WordPress during the <.09 era and we found out for myself exactly how hard technical writing is. It’s something we’re good at and, more importantly, enjoy. We appreciate the skill, nuance, talent and even luck that goes into writing good documentation.

It is something that we complain about often on teh twitter derp corn; often using ultraviolent language cos most developers are assholes. We’ve mentioned on this here blargh of using vimwiki. Their documentation looks like… actually, not even going to bother with a screenshot because they don’t have anything on their github or wiki that actually says “Documentation”. They take the easy way out and tell you “oh run :h vimwiki in vim”.

No, fuck you, lazy assholes.

Another few great examples of technical writing gone wrong:

  • Pretty much any plugins for vim. Most of them are just the same text file you’d use :h for, except without hyperlinking.
  • VirtualBox coming in with the one-page User Manual
  • Nextcloud, with documentation full of gotchas that should be mentioned prior or during installation, but aren’t.
  • Apple: Documentation? What’s that? Also there never was any documentation here.

Agent J: Move along, nothing to see here

I just had to use a gif for Apple. It’s that bad. Most Android apps don’t have any documentation of any kind whatsoever. Windows applications used to have documentation built-in but now they just direct you to their website, where documentation changes and disappears depending on the A-level goals for the quarter.

There are many more examples out there but these are some of the ones I can think of right now. The gist of it is this kind of thing is hard and people who do it should be paid for it, and if they’re good at it they should be paid well. If a developer doesn’t want to write proper documentation then… they should either have someone do it for them and listen to that feedback, or get their ass handed to them so they get on writing it themselves.

Going to go eat something now before the hunger makes me angrier.

All for a fistful of dollars

FOSS is dead. what now?

Source: Post-Open Source | boringcactus

the gods fucken damnit, Mozilla. This is but one article out of so, so, so many out there that are talking about the death, dearth, and zombification of open source projects. And that’s before we even bring in the tweets.

But sure, those Mozilla Corporation executives deserve millions of dollars so they can look preen themselves when they have to prostate themselves before their capitalist gods making hundreds of times their salaries.

I’ll stick to regular cow’s milk, thanks

What actions has Oatly taken that would make us trust them? They’ve built an incredible marketing engine and raised 100s of millions of dollars convincing you that you should put sugar and vegetable oil into your coffee each morning, while hand-waving away evidence that they’re harming you.

Source: Oatly: The New Coke – Divinations

I personally prefer my coffee without oil but if other people want to do that to theirs, sure, go for it.

dafuq does RSS even mean, seriously

Source: How would I improve RSS? Three ideas (Interconnected)

We rely heavily on RSS to find things to read and keep up with The Noise on the Internet. We also tend to shun newsletters cos RSS is a much better tool for them and en’t nobody got time for yet more email.

We’re aware of other initiatives like JSON Feed but they require re-implementing RSS into something else. Maybe the solution is an evolution of what the protocol currently is?

Start with a proper name for the protocol though. Bonus points if someone figures it out how to make it recursive.

Gimme da (expensive) power

Although Fully Homomorphic Encryption makes things possible which otherwise would not be, it comes at a steep cost. Above, we can see charts indicating the additional compute power and memory resources required to operate on FHE-encrypted machine-learning models—roughly 40-50 times the compute and 10-20 times the RAM that would be required to do the same work on unencrypted models.

Source: IBM completes successful field trials on Fully Homomorphic Encryption | Ars Technica

Acquiring and maintaining this much computing power for FHE workloads is fucken expensive and that’s before you even start thinking about energy requirements for running this hardware and then cooling it.

Intel and AMD will be chomping at the bit to make us all buy new hardware though.

Y ora pa’onde?

No policy, though, would be able to stop the forces — climate, increasingly, among them — that are pushing migrants from the south to breach Mexico’s borders, legally or illegally. So what happens when still more people — many millions more — float across the Suchiate River and land in Chiapas? Our model suggests that this is what is coming — that between now and 2050, nearly 9 million migrants will head for Mexico’s southern border, more than 300,000 of them because of climate change alone.

Source: Where Will Everyone Go?

Mientras esto es lo que un modelo computacional prevee el Peje no quiere que le pregunten de nada a menos que sea sobre el avion.

Como emigrante leo esto y siento acongoje por el futuro que nos espera a todos. Mientras tanto, La Bestia sigue su implacable marcha.

I want a drink and it’s not even 0700 yet

On this here blog I use a few things to help secure everything down and avoid issues, namely, nginx location blocks disallowing access to resources, fail2ban tracking nginx logs to prevent people hammering server or trying to do improper things, and the “Limit Login Attempts” WP plugin.

A combination of all these broke access with the wordpress mobile app. Ended up having to disable the wordpress fail2ban jail and altering some of the nginx directives.

This is going to be a pain in the ass to debug cos the wordpress app doesn’t have any kind of proper error messaging, urgh.

Huawei Hacked My Laptop? « Sunburnt Technology

Source: Huawei Hacked My Laptop? « Sunburnt Technology

At the end of the post the author does say:

I’m giving Huawei the benefit of doubt on this one. As a commenter suggested, it is probably a hack to run the GUI as root.

But we still have a problem with hardware manufactures thinking “oh we can just use root for everything and it’ll turn out alright!”, because they’re not familiar with the platform.

This is one instance where Microsoft was able to impose order and open source desktop environments need to start thinking about doing so, too.

Another attempt at a note-taking workflow

In a previous post I mentioned one of the tools I use is Wiki.js. It was a great thing to learn how to set it up but… I was never entirely happy with it:

  • It’s somewhat slow on loading.
  • Not that customizable yet.
  • The update process is a total pain in the ass. They want you to use Docker and this ‘ere server can run it but performance wouldn’t be that nice.
  • On mobile I have to depend on the vagaries of whatever browser I’m using (Firefox) so I don’t get that good of an editing interface.
  • This is a private repository of knowledge so if it turns out wiki.js has a security issue my wiki is now at risk until I go through the pain of updating again.

So that’s that. I’d been playing with vimwiki since it’s text-based. After a bit of playing I was able to make it work nicely on the gVim instance I run on the Windows 10 desktop and the Ubuntu instance I run in WSL.

The mobile side of things was immensely helped along by Epsilon Notes, which blows iA Writer completely out of the water. Along the way I tried using Joplin which at first glance seems awesome but then you run into this issue:

Screencapture of JoplinApp filenames

Yes, I get the logic of completely unique filenames but it also means that I’m locked into the app. This is something people have complained about as it defeats all efforts at interoperability. I mean, these are fucken markdown files. And this is an open source app!

Oh right, it also uses its own WebDAV connection to the Nexcloud instance, so slow your roll.

So back to Epsilon. It’s got a few goodies:

  • Line numbers
  • CommonMark is the default markdown dialect.
  • It’s native to Android.
  • Let’s you use front matter for tags but doesn’t require it. I personally don’t care for it.
  • It sets up its own folder in the device filesystem which you can then sync with Nextcloud.

The workflow

All right, so this is what I have right now

vim/gvim

Assuming there’s already a working Windows gVim instance, a working WSL installation, and a working Nextcloud desktop client:

  1. Setup vim with vimwiki.
  2. Configure vimwiki to store its files in a directory being synced by the Nextcloud desktop client. For the sake of simplicity and avoid changing my .vimrc file unnecesarily in WSL/ubuntu I symlinked ~/vimwiki to the appropriate directory in Windows; this way the _vimrc file in gVim could remain the same. Using either vim instance gets me to the same location.
  3. Create your vimwiki index file: <Leader>ww, and save it. It should get picked up by Nextcloud.

Nextcloud

Using the web interface or the Android client, mark the vimwiki folder as a favorite so Nextcloud keeps it synced at all times. I don’t think there’s a way to do this in the desktop client yet.

Epsilon Notes

Assuming there’s already a working Nextcloud app

  1. Install Epsilon from the Play Store.
  2. Tap the folder icon on the top right and navigate to /storage/emulated/0/Android/media/com.nextcloud.client/nextcloud/USER@HOST/vimwiki/. If you have multiple Nextcloud accounts on the same app you’ll see all of those listed with a USER@HOST folder each and you can just jump between folders.

Another way of doing this is setting up custom folders but I think doing it this way makes for a simpler configuration. It’d probably be really useful you have multiple vimwikis or multiple Nextcloud accounts though.

Bonus: Servers

I have a couple of boxes that run headless and I also wanted to have my notes available on there. There isn’t a terminal Nextcloud client but I found Rclone. I could have used cadaver but Rclone is designed specifically for cloud file storage:

These instructions worked under my Debian 10 install:

  1. Install rclone and fuse3: sudo aptitude install rclone fuse3.
  2. Configure Rclone with rclone config. Documentation.
  3. Create an Rclone mount with something like
rclone --vfs-cache-mode writes mount NEXTCLOUD:/vimwiki ~/vimwiki --daemon

Which assumes NEXTCLOUD is what you named the remote configuration, your vimwiki directory lives at $HOME, and you want the connection to remain alive until you decide to stop it manually. The --vfs-cache-mode writes flag will enable some amount of caching. Documentation.
4. At this point you can access your vimwiki as if they were on the local filesystem.

Fucken awesome amirite

SO now we have wiki-like notes that can be edited on desktop, mobile, or server, using whichever editor you prefer. Another bonus: You’re not locked in to anything. I could edit notes on desktop with Notepad++, Sublime Text, or Atom. On mobile you can edit them with whatever text editor you end up with. On a server you can edit them natively with whatever you have at hand.

And in the sad event you don’t have anything you can still access them through the Nextcloud web interface. They even got a markdown editor but I’m not sure what dialect it uses.

The only thing I dont have anymore is a nice clean way to print these notes but this is where pandoc and a print.css file should be useful. If worst comes to worst I can always paste something into LibreOffice and just change the styling that way. Another thing I’ll have to change is how I search for things but since I do have access to the terminal I can always resort to grep if worst comes to worst.

Extras

I did have a few things that led me to try and avoid using web interfaces for this

  • The Website Obesity Crisis. Comments on reddit and Hacker News
  • The reckless, infinite scope of web browsers
  • I tried creating a web browser, and Google blocked me
  • Browser bloat has been a problem for a long, long time now.
  • The proliferation of browser-based text editors (StackEdit, Dillinger, Editor.md, WordPress) that try to do too much and they end up falling flat on their face cos nothing beats the responsiveness of editing locally.
  • The flipside of the above is I can use editors native to each platform. This post was typed on vim, then pasted into WP, for example. This makes for a much, much nicer editing experience specially when doing long-form text or to-do lists.
  • Avoiding lock-in. It was a drag to move from one platform to another and paste everything manually, cos all of these tools depend on locking you in.
  • Security. My Nextcloud instance is exposed to the Internet but I can always implement more things cos I control the network, the hardware, and the operating system.
  • Other people who were also on search of a good editing experience, like this, or this.
  • Easy migration of mark-up. I’m trying to use editors that support CommonMark since that way I can always be more or less sure of how something is going to look if I export it elsewhere, and I have the freedom of switching to something else like ReStructured Text or AsciiDoc, which I have considered.

I’m super excited about this. My notes en’t locked in anywhere and they’re all in plain-text, which is the only thing guaranteed to not change in the next 20 years,

“you can have backwards compatibility with the 1990s or you can have sound cryptography; you can’t have both.”

Cryptography engineers have been tearing their hair out over PGP’s deficiencies for (literally) decades. When other kinds of engineers get wind of this, they’re shocked. PGP is bad? Why do people keep telling me to use PGP? The answer is that they shouldn’t be telling you that, because PGP is bad and needs to go away.

Source: Latacora – The PGP Problem

I knew PGP was bad and had avoided it cos I knew of its eldritch complexity of integration but I didn’t know about the rest.

Figures that Thunderbird is planning on integrating it as a built-in function.

They should probably use something else, methinks.

Lapas con rifles

Source: Special Report: Drug cartel ‘narco-antennas’ make life dangerous for Mexico’s cell tower repairmen – Reuters

Ahora con eso que el mugre peje no quiere confrontación de cualquier clase con los carteles, que pueden hacer las empresas?

Si los empleados hacen algo mal, los matan. Si la empresa hace algo mal, la balean o secuestran. Mientras tanto los costos de energía siguen y siguen.

Mal asunto de cualquier forma que se mire.

Locked out? Good luck

Let’s build and configure a minimal SSH bastion host (jump box) from scratch, using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

Source: DIY SSH Bastion Host

This is all well and good except for the bit where the author is clearly invested in using the cloud (i.e. other people’s computers) to run your own infrastructure.

What happens when google locks you out? Or when amazon decides to do the same. Same concern goes for Azure, or any other cloud provider.

Good luck fixing any of that without having to tear down a lot of your own work just to be able to be useful again. I get it, from a developer point of view setting it like this means it’s easy to plug into projects, but from a sysadmin point of view it means you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot sooner rather than later, specially if you missed a little onfiguration detail that lets your server wide open for takeover.