Twitter: @ewenmcneill -- April 2021

Wed Mar 31 23:11:23 +0000 2021 (#)

Hot take: if you are entering configuration information into a file that is not machine parseable then your process is insufficiently automated.

Wed Mar 31 23:14:31 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Additional hot take: If the program that you’re required to use to enter the configuration passively aggressively auto-“corrects” (almost) every item you enter to the wrong information then it is the wrong tool for the job.

Thu Apr 01 02:22:03 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @MicroSFF: "But how?" the evil overlord said. "Neither man nor woman can slay me." "Dude," the hero said, wiping the blood off their swo…

Thu Apr 01 08:33:39 +0000 2021 (#)

Physical addresses: fractally more complicated than you thought.

Thu Apr 01 08:40:21 +0000 2021 (#)

IME it hit electronics parts first, and now the shortages are happening for things made from electronics parts. Eg, for one project the first 2-3 models of network switches we wanted are already 6-12 week lead time (in 2019 they’d have been 1-2 week lead time at most).

Thu Apr 01 08:42:51 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Fortunately that project did order most of the key gear in December 2020 (and has it already). But I’ve had a month of repeatedly redesigning around “what’s available” for the ancillary bits they didn’t pre buy (assuming they’d be trivial to get — not so much).

Thu Apr 01 21:37:54 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @theavalkyrie: 👀 New blog post: Designing Winterbloom's Castor & Pollux.

A deep dive into the hardware design of a Roland Juno-inspired…

Fri Apr 02 05:15:46 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @newhouseb: After a ton of cleanup and documentation, this is now fully open source:

The BLE radio: The buildi…

Fri Apr 02 05:15:50 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @newhouseb: I just built a Bluetooth receiver using nothing but a Xilinx FPGA and an antenna.

No ADC, no filters, no mixers, no AGC, n…

Fri Apr 02 05:43:47 +0000 2021 (#)

“What every coder should know about gamma” (2016-09-21) is both a good introduction, and has an excellent set of references linked at the end.

TIL that sRGB is very similar to gamma of 2.2, but with important differences in the blacks.

Fri Apr 02 07:08:42 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @helenleigh

Kaumātua (from Maori: literally approximately “elder”, but more wisdom and leadership than age).

There are separate words for specifying gender of the elder at the same time (see second link).ātua

Fri Apr 02 07:24:27 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Relatedly via comments in @.esden’s Twitch stream this week, a Python Colour Science library and associated data sets.

From the examples it looks really useful.

Fri Apr 02 21:43:31 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ExcitedLeigh

It turns out my willingness to listen to hold music is greater than my willingness to give out personally identifiable information to someone who calls me out of true blue.

(Not a fan of either TBH. But sometimes it ends up being important 😢)

Fri Apr 02 22:25:20 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @tveastman

A small bandaid over the bridge of the nose, changed regularly (eg take off at night, new one in the morning), can take the pressure off and help the skin recover. I found it took a couple of weeks, and being extra careful not to bump my glasses, to get back to normal.

Sun Apr 04 01:03:16 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @helenleigh

Or give the bird bot its own twitter account, so it’s an opt in thing for “fill my timeline with possible birds? 🤔

(There seems to be a desired range between 0 and 2000 here which is hard to tune for with a single value 😃)

Sun Apr 04 21:24:54 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @apollo_50th: The Apollo 14 lunar material has been released from quarantine in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL) at MSC in Houston,…

Mon Apr 05 01:43:08 +0000 2021 (#)

Hot take: the ACC (accident compensation) shareholder employer tax invoice is the absolute worst presentation of the information contained. It mixes two years together, and GST exclusive, GST inclusive, and “GST not claimable” (Earner’s Levy) together in confused sums.

Mon Apr 05 01:46:51 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Every year, at about this time of year, it takes me half an hour to reverse engineer how that various bits add up into claimable GST, claimable base levies, and non claimable base levies and GST.

I have no idea how they got IRD to approve that tax invoice format 😔

Mon Apr 05 08:47:21 +0000 2021 (#)

“Prefetching in Functional Languages” from ACM SIGPLAN ISSM 2020 (starts at 1h4m).

It turns out “memory” is a very leaky abstraction on modern cache heavy architectures: without prefetching you can be very DRAM latency bound, especially in linked lists.

Mon Apr 05 09:08:23 +0000 2021 (#)

“Metric Paper”: A200 to A-200 is quite the trip! Interestingly there’s basically just void at both ends of the scale.... 🤔

(8 minute video in quoted tweet)

Tue Apr 06 08:15:18 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Relatedly this is an interesting detailed blog post series on (pre mechanised) fabric production, starting with flax (linen) and sheep (wool).

(4 parts so far, maybe 1 more coming?)

Thu Apr 08 03:06:03 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Should you discover you’ve made the mistake of entering configuration into a write only “document” format, you might find docx2txt useful.

It took 60 lines of “many assumptions” shell script, but I got the details I needed back out as text.

Thu Apr 08 08:36:46 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @slyall

From memory the Reserve Bank insisted that Australian owned banks trading in NZ maintained their own NZ based banking systems. Which probably explains the non-trivial IT staff in NZ. Presumably that wouldn’t change on a sale (probably to another overseas bank 🤔).

Thu Apr 08 08:40:07 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @slyall

There are relatively few major trading banks left in NZ, so I’d be surprised if regulators allowed Westpac to be merged with another existing large NZ based bank. FWIW.

Fri Apr 09 22:28:04 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @GyledC: This is why sewing must be a skill that's taught to everyone. Not just for girls in home economics classes. It is a practical n…

Fri Apr 09 22:39:05 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @crowd_supply: Coming soon: LUNA, an all-in-one tool for building, testing, monitoring, and experimenting with USB devices. LUNA is the…

Sun Apr 11 04:28:09 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @QuinnyPig: Machine Learning is bias laundering.

Tue Apr 13 05:35:55 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

The answer to “can the FSF move past its founder” turns out to be “no” 😬

So the FSF represents “RMS and followers” rather than the Free Software or Open Source communities. At least we know for sure now, and can move on.

Tue Apr 13 05:39:41 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

In other news, I’ve been pleased to see the progress that the Open Source Initiative has made in moving past its founders, and gaining new life and purpose. Work is “on going” but definitely in a useful direction. So that’s where my membership money goes.

Wed Apr 14 01:30:13 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Part 4b of the “4 part” series on (historical, pre mechanised) fabric production did indeed get posted.

Wed Apr 14 08:53:27 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @helenleigh

I don’t know of a good “summary” talk/podcast. “Command Line Heros” (podcast, upthread) does cover some interesting pieces though.

Book wise “Hackers” by Steven Levy (1984) gives a lot of the historical philosophical context leading up to RMS/FSF. 1/2

Wed Apr 14 08:58:40 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @helenleigh

RMS appears in the “The Last of the True Hackers” epilogue of Levy’s book.

“Open Source” as a term came 15 years later, as a reaction to RMS.

“Rebel Code” by Glyn Moody and maybe “Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution” (ed Chris DiBona, et al) may help there. 2/2

Wed Apr 14 20:29:24 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @DavidGlaude and @helenleigh

The Open Source name came about at the time the Netscape Navigator source was released. There was a meeting to decide on a new name because of associations of “Free Software” with RMS/FSF meanings. See eg History of Open Source.

Wed Apr 14 20:33:17 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @DavidGlaude and @helenleigh

There was a bunch written at the time (1998) about that meeting, and why it happened, eg on UseNet. But I’m not sure how much is easily found online now (and I don’t have time to try today, sorry). (Maybe early posts in @.jwz’s site? He was at Netscape then.)

Thu Apr 15 07:18:27 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @slyall: I hadn't seen the earlier email but will be doing a virtual conference in January 2022. Not enough cert…

Thu Apr 15 08:22:24 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @pjf

TBH a bunch of my payments for things are pretty close to the Street Performer Protocol: I liked this thing you already did a bunch, so I’ll look for a convenient way to give you more money.

Having “pay more if you liked it” things is possibly better than a higher initial cost.

Thu Apr 15 08:25:14 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @pjf

As you point out, I’m not sure creators necessarily realise these “purchasable” extras might not need to “sing for their own supper” so much as provide some additional value and a convenient way to “put more money in the tip jar”, for “if I’d known I’d have paid more up front”.

Sun Apr 18 09:48:41 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @textfiles: Here's another favorite.

This is like watching a magician walk in with a bundle of leaves and an i…

Mon Apr 19 06:48:34 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Look at that, another new Vodafone NZ network name — “VF Kia Ora”, and it’s nice and short too 💖


(Not sure when it changed; somewhere in the last 24 hours, for me, I think.)

Tue Apr 20 00:24:00 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @sophaskins

Like others I tend to use the warranty period (or 3-5 years for spinning disks) as “trustable lifetime” rather than MTBF.

As of 2021 I’m holding one on site spare drive for every RAID array I have. Because of two “drive errored out” issues this year. 1/2

Tue Apr 20 00:26:15 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @sophaskins

For one RAID drive error replacing the external enclosure fixed the RAID (same disk in use, but I have a spare now too).

For the other RAID error I’d been thinking of expanding anyway, so I’ve bought 60% larger drives and swapped first in for errored one. 2/2

Tue Apr 20 00:29:58 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @sophaskins

For most NAS this is the recommended expansion path (swap 1 drive for larger drive, the swap rest later). So should be fine.

Main things I’d check is native sector size (512 or 4096) matches, and “CMR” drive type (ie not shingled/SMR). For WD you want Red Plus/Pro now.

Wed Apr 21 07:14:54 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @RealSexyCyborg

One of the things I most admire about you is that you’re simultaneously hyper-fem and hyper-masc. That combination seems to break some people’s brains 😃

(It’s unfortunate the result is that you end up having to play life on Hard Mode most of the time 😢)

Wed Apr 21 07:38:19 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @RealSexyCyborg

Sorry 😬

Fri Apr 23 07:35:56 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @nickzoic and @aurynn

AWS_PROFILE is in the documentation for named profiles (I know because I had to find it myself).

TBH if you’re going to use a virtual env you might as well skip the config file and just set the access key env variables directly.

Fri Apr 23 07:38:34 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @nickzoic and @aurynn

In case it helps, for one client I have some shell scripts called “staging” and “production” which just set relevant environment variables (including AWS_PROFILE) and then exec the rest of the command line for the real command.

Sat Apr 24 08:51:05 +0000 2021 (#)

The whole (8 part) series “The Secret Life of Components” has been great; it’s well worth watching all of them if you have any interest in making things, or how things are made.

(This part 8 is the last in this season of the series.)

Sat Apr 24 10:19:08 +0000 2021 (#)

“Minimalist Piano Forever” is a fascinating talk (from 2019) about replicating an Erik Satie piece (Gnossiennes No 1) in an endlessly playing version via MIDI note chains (in a browser).

Sat Apr 24 10:23:11 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Discovered via this thread from a week or so back. I’ve enjoyed both talks I’ve from Mouse in that thread, so definitely agree on “flattening the audience with joy”.

Sun Apr 25 07:26:01 +0000 2021 (#)

A good explanation of how timing edge cases in the floppy MFM encoding were used to create floating bits, that could be used to distinguish an original from a copied disk. Floppy disk protection in the 1980s/90s had clever tricks!

Sun Apr 25 08:26:03 +0000 2021 (#)

Nickel storage delay line implementation for an ESDAC (very early computer) replica (original had mercury delay lines).

The video shows the general design and assembly of the “replica” modules. (Video from 2020-03-31, ie about a year ago.)

Sun Apr 25 08:28:25 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @__fincham

I trust you’re aware several of the original SLOM got re-released in higher quality/cleaned up versions on YouTube recently? (That was my first contact with the channel, then people started talking about the new series... :-) )

Tue Apr 27 08:06:22 +0000 2021 (#)

“How to crash a plane” — and have more than half the passengers survive. It’s a great talk about incident management, team diversity, and involving everyone in the solution.

(Via a Twitter thread a week ago, which started with “The Glimli Glider”.)

Tue Apr 27 08:10:28 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

This is the original thread linking studying airplane incidents to IT problem analysis. There’s some other good links in the thread.

Tue Apr 27 08:15:46 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Also relevant, a blog post series a friend I’d mine wrote earlier this month, comparing emergency services (fire, etc) incident command procedures to IT incident management.

Tue Apr 27 08:59:19 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @fanf: negative leap second news!

John Sauter mentioned on the tz mailing list that according to the predictions in IERS Bulletin A


Tue Apr 27 09:16:30 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @yaakov_h and @ExcitedLeigh

IIRC scripting languages not being included in macOS 10.15 was foreshadowed quite a while ago. Seems like they’ve finally “cleaned up” older installs. (Unfortunate for developers that previously relied on an OS installed scripting language.)

Tue Apr 27 09:31:22 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @yaakov_h

IIRC they kept /use/bin/python as 2.7; your original screenshot was trying to link to a Python 3.8 framework. Which is what I rembered prompted the original announcement: they weren’t going to update Python / Perl / etc to modern versions, just stop shipping in the OS.

Tue Apr 27 09:39:22 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @isomer

Interestingly both the Glimli Glider (no fuel, power) and the UA232 to Chicago (no hydraulic fluid) both managed to control the plane manually (UA232 with differential thrust control).

But definitely automation reliance is a big “leaky abstractions” risk. Thanks for the link!

Tue Apr 27 20:24:40 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @davidgerard

It seems the Internet Archive can archive direct mp3 links these days. TIL.

(Seems to play back okay, as a “live playback” item, apart from missing the last few seconds suggesting people Google for news.)

Wed Apr 28 08:50:33 +0000 2021 (#)

TIL that Basecamp, recently in the news for bad takes, is not in fact a brand new startup as I’d assumed, but actually a 20 year old company, formerly known as 37signals, known for creating things like Ruby on Rails 😮

Wed Apr 28 08:53:28 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

A whole lot of comments I’ve seen today suddenly make a lot more sense with this context that Basecamp isn’t just some random new startup.

And... yikes 😬 (It was bad enough when I thought it was a random 6 month old company. But as a 20 year old company pivot... wow.)

Thu Apr 29 21:37:33 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @jonoxer: 2021 electronics mood: designing PCBs with footprints for 3 different temperature sensors, because any of them could go from 2…

Fri Apr 30 05:30:38 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @aurynn and @mulmbot

“Bag machine” sounds to me like a colloquial term for The Luggage :-)

(And from memory there’s at least a few “follow me” automated suitcases around now, which remind me of The Luggage.)