Month: July 2020

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.

damianwaynerocks: iroh: once, i told zuko that he needs to work on his inter turmoil. he screamed…

damianwaynerocks:
iroh: once, i told zuko that he needs to work on his inter turmoil. he screamed at me that he had no such inner turmoil, and then proceeded to go to a cliff during a thunderstorm to scream at God to strike him with lightning phantoms-lair:

Okay, but you’re missing the best part of this. silverscreenx:

fefeman:

I’m still stuck at the “batman has adoption papers in his utility belt”. jess-the-werefox:

*Zuko fighting the Joker* J: “wan na kno w h ow i go t thes e sc ar s” explorerrowan:

Zuko: Do you mind if I wear this blue demon mask? damianwaynerocks:

ok but if bruce wayne somehow came upon zuko fresh out of banishment he would lose his mind. black hair? check. bad parent(s)? check. trauma? double check. bruce: how’d you get your scar? zuko: my dad got mad at me for saying that killing people is wrong so he lit my face on fire and banished me.

bruce, vibrating with excitement, already pulling adoption papers from his utilility: that’s terrible. how do you feel about capes.

Bruce: *sniff, tear in his eye* Not at all.

Z: *rips off mask* i don’t give a fuck

“Quick, it’s time to use the Bat-adoption papers!”

Bat-option papers

Alfred and Iroh complimenting each other on tea while they discuss their overly dramatic children.

alfred: master bruce and i have that interaction at least three times per week.

Breakfast

        <a href="https://www.flickr.com/people/nullrend/">nullrend</a> posted a photo:
Breakfast

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.

Dramatic skies

        <a href="https://www.flickr.com/people/nullrend/">nullrend</a> posted a photo:
Dramatic skies

Some good, some bad

A similar process occurs in therapy. After a while, clients internalise the warmth and understanding of their therapist, turning it into an internal resource to draw on for strength and support. A new, compassionate voice flickers into life, silencing that of the inner critic – itself an echo of insensitive earlier attachment figures. But this transformation doesn’t come easy. As the poet WH Auden wrote in The Age of Anxiety (1947): “We would rather be ruined than changed.” It is the therapist’s job, as a secure base and safe haven, to guide clients as they journey into unfamiliar waters, helping them stay hopeful and to persist through the pain, sadness, anger, fear, anxiety and despair they might need to face.

Source: How you attach to people may explain a lot about your inner life | Science | The Guardian

We are all the voices of our past, then.

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.

Smurf aesthetic

        <a href="https://www.flickr.com/people/nullrend/">nullrend</a> posted a photo:
Smurf aesthetic

Refugio

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Refugio

Thinking Tools: July 2020

It’s been a long while since that last post I did and my setup has changed a lot:

Web services

  • This site, which I’m trying to update more often with links and blog posts I find interesting. It’s going much better after I installed the WP Editor.md plugin to enhance the plain editor. The gutenberg editor sucks ass.
  • Nextcloud. I’m running my own instance to replace Dropbox, which I didn’t like the last time. Got the desktop client installed and it’s working quite nicely.
  • Twitter is still my social media network of choice. I’m using tweetdeck on the desktop
  • Feedly is still my RSS reader of choice but I’m looking around for a replacement that works across all my devices and it’s pretty to look at. Now that people are starting to move away from centralized social networks again there should be some movement in this space.
  • I’m running my own wiki using Wiki.js, which I’ve blogged about. This will probably merit another couple blog posts of their own specially now that I found vimwiki which could potentially run inside my Nextcloud instance.

Actual applications installed on my desktops and laptops

  • For messaging I’m now using Ferdi, a fork of Franz, to run most of my instant messaging needs. The great exceptions are Slack, Discord, and Signal; I discovered I work better when they have their own app instances running but when Signal offers a web interface I’ll probably fold it into Franz.
  • Spotify. Thinking of replacing it with a self-hosted option. I miss my graded playlists.
  • KeePass is still my password manager of choice.
  • Firefox. Mozilla keeps trying its best to kill all low-level functionality. This is easily the program I fuck around with the most, going from extensions to custom userChrome files.
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux. Much less of a pain in the ass than running a VirtualBox VM depending on what you’re doing. Using wsltty as its terminal.

There are some single-purpose utilities I’ve discovered in the interim that are extremely useful for working in Windows 10.

Mobile applications (Android)

  • The usual instant messaging slash social networking suspects minus TikTok, which is spyware.
  • Firefox mobile. Firefox needs to do better at syncing preferences into it.
  • Fenix twitter client. Twitter Co keeps fucking around with their API and preventing third party clients from achieving the excellence they used to have years ago.
  • Nextcloud mobile client for my Nextcloud instance. Needs a lot of work to compare with Dropbox, but it does its job well.
  • Moon+ Reader for ebooks. This one took me a long while to find, most ebook readers have utterly crazy skeuomorphic defaults.
  • Photoshop Express. This one was annoying but you’d be surprised how many image editors are missing features you’d consider basic (like cropping and image resizing), opting instead to overload with photo filters you’ll never use. This one has all the filters but at least lets you crop and resize. It replaced Snapseed. I’ve still to wade through open source editors but my hopes are dim on that front.

There are some things that underpin all of these applications but I think I’ll leave it as-is. It’s pretty fun to see how my workflow changes over time.

Cognitive Dissonance 30 minutes out of downtown

The suburbs run on federal subsidies. Without them, America’s suburbs would have to become more financially productive. They would need to get greater returns per foot on public infrastructure investment. That would mean repealing repressive zoning regulations, allowing the market to respond to supply and demand signals for housing. It would also mean allowing the “little downtowns” Kurtz fears to form where demand for them exists. Isn’t that what is supposed to happen with self-government and local control?

Source: It’s Time to Abolish Single-Family Zoning | The American Conservative

To have a conservative person say this is quite strange. Few suburbs in all of the US actively try to compete with the cities they’re attached to, mostly because they only want to attract wealthier millennials who can afford the down payment on a house by way of the parents paying for it.

And a special version of Flash for games only?

Are we ready to revisit some of the ideas of the early web again? There are trends that suggest we might just have come full circle – and I like it.

Source: The Return of the 90s Web | Max Böck

The only sites that won’t have an RSS feed are those of corporate entities that explicitly depend on keeping people on their sites, like fb.

Hopefully some enterprising engineer at google has found the Google Reader source code and are bringing it back to life…

Tie yourself together

Over and over again, I’ve seen people fix some wireless-related problem and go “wow, I had no idea how much better this could be!” • Wireless protocols often silently operate in an extremely degraded state that makes them substantially worse than wired equivalents.

Source: Wireless is a trap | benkuhn.net

I live in an apartment building that is located within the city core of my city. When I scan for WiFi networks I can see at least 25 from my main workstation. On my laptop, standing in the middle of the front courtyard, you can see at least 40 networks. Mind you, this is only WiFi networks; I’m not including everything else that might be using the 2.4 GHz spectrum, like Bluetooth or other kinds of wireless devices.

I switched to wired devices a long, long time ago precisely of unreliable connections, network lag, and the fact that WiFi optimization is more of an art than any sort of science, and that’s before you bring in newer WiFi versions. I just recently rewired my apartment to have Ethernet all over and be able to throw around 4K media with abandon.

Now if only the USB Implementers Forum would get its shit together, that’d be awesome