Twitter: @ewenmcneill -- June 2021

Mon May 31 21:49:33 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @Pinboard: I think it's time for us in the tech world to speak out and make it clear the emperor has no clothes here. Cryptocurrency is…

Tue Jun 01 05:19:31 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @minxdragon

I’ve noticed that I’m at the point where I just automatically translate “he”/“his”to “they”/“their” when reading game instructions out loud to someone. As if the rule text was written in some foreign language.

(I too wish they’d use the “gender unknown” “they” for players. 🌈)

Tue Jun 01 08:25:34 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @Danjite

Yes it is a particularly good restoration for almost 50 year old 16mm film!

Thanks for sharing :-)

(Just got to watching it today.)

Wed Jun 02 05:56:31 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ktemkin

“First equal” 😃

(Or maybe “second equal” if you do primaries / secondaries. Polycules tend to be non trivial sized so “top 9” doesn’t sound that unreasonable in context... 🤔)

Wed Jun 02 07:08:04 +0000 2021 (#)

This L0pht “press kit” (VHS recordings of press about them) is a wonderful time capsule of 1990s hacker history, well worth the time to watch if you remember the 1990s online. About 1.5 hours long in total.

(The audio noise floor is fairly high in parts but it’s understandable.)

Wed Jun 02 08:44:46 +0000 2021 (#)

If you like soundscape performances this (March 2021, remote) performance is well worth watching. I especially liked the second half of the performance (approximately the last half hour). Performed in association with the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

Wed Jun 02 08:51:54 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @RealSexyCyborg: Another @Creality3dprint Ender-3 used as a low-cost robotics system, I expect to see a lot more of this...…

Fri Jun 04 01:20:09 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ravenslofty

“Alt for reconfigurable digital logic” and “alt for reconfigurable... everything else” :-)

Fri Jun 04 01:22:12 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ravenslofty

Exactly :-)

Fri Jun 04 03:17:02 +0000 2021 (#)

If your “datasheet” doesn’t have a proper mechanical diagram, with all dimensions shown, it’s just a marketing brochure with some random tech speak in it.

Fri Jun 04 03:22:01 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

I care way more about, eg, the distance between connectors than I do about, eg, permissible storage elevation (above MSL) or other page space filler “common specifications”.

Fri Jun 04 03:56:57 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Also if your product is intended to be rackmounted and your “datasheet” doesn’t specify how the product is cooled (fans/passive circulation, airflow direction, etc) then your datasheet is incomplete.

Sun Jun 06 04:19:38 +0000 2021 (#)

Curiously exploring the planet on 2.5kW per day. An engineer’s budgeting story of an on going mission :-)

This (April 2021) episode of the Embedded Podcast is particularly fascinating if you enjoy stories of life beyond the range of a service call out!

Tue Jun 08 08:40:53 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @minxdragon: Thread.

Tue Jun 08 09:14:41 +0000 2021 (#)

The “Crossroads” Sudoku (variant) puzzle (by TotallyNormalCat) is a master class in set theory, especially disjoint sets. The 1h15m solve (in the video) actually seems a fairly efficient solve!

Video ends with a reading of “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe.

Tue Jun 08 22:20:59 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @scalzi: The odds that one actually lives inside a 1970s prog rock album cover are small, but never zero.

Wed Jun 09 02:13:10 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @dylanbeattie: OK, time for a little recap about how to write good error messages. Comes down to remembering four things:

Wed Jun 09 07:46:27 +0000 2021 (#)

The Fastly Blog has a good timeline and a basic overview of the cause of yesterday’s (pretty much) global Fastly CDN outage for 50-60 minutes.

TL;DR: customer pushed valid config change, which triggered a bug in software deployed since 2021-05-12.

Wed Jun 09 07:50:38 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Effects of config change triggering issue mitigated in about 50-70 minutes. Permanent bug fix created, and being rolled out over the last 12+ hours.

Latent new bugs in software that depend on custom config are “fun” 😬

Wed Jun 09 07:52:53 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @isomer

The intriguing thing is their timeline says:

09:47 (UTC) onset of disruption 09:48 (UTC) global disruption identified ... 10:36 (UTC) impacted services begin to recover

So it clearly got a long way before being detected as problematic.

Wed Jun 09 07:54:43 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @isomer

My guess is maybe triggering the bug needed specific software version (May 2021 rollout), specific customer (rule?) config and matching traffic to trigger edge case of rule/software.

Which as you said maybe got past any canary “tasting” delays... 🤔

Wed Jun 09 08:25:29 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @isomer

Yes I suspect the time window Fastly allow themselves for rolling out customer rule config changes globally is fairly short (eg minutes).

So “only breaks when it sees certain traffic” config might not see the required traffic in that short time window...

Thu Jun 10 05:31:17 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @tveastman

Seems legit. My father used to tell stories of catching the Wellington trams as a teenager. It’s why there’s a big middle strip down the middle of Lambton Quay, between Cambridge/Kent Terrace, etc.

Replaced by trolley buses, then replaced by diesel buses. Progress! 😢 😔

Thu Jun 10 21:30:15 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @ktemkin: help to save costs i’ve been storing several C variables in the same memory and now they’re starting to unionize

Fri Jun 11 23:59:50 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @flangey: For anyone who would like to know how long an ethernet frame is.

(Speed of light in fibre is about 0.66c)…

Sat Jun 12 02:02:48 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @isomer: Thread of epic home network debugging

Sat Jun 12 03:41:03 +0000 2021 (#)

Sat Jun 12 04:14:04 +0000 2021 (#)

I think I preferred it when the National Grid didn’t sound like this 🤔

(Only this pylon, only recently, nearest to track just down from top of Old Coach Road. You can hear it from 100m away: video from about 20m away.)

Sat Jun 12 04:16:57 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

There’s obvious work started near the next pylon towards the Strait (up on the hill), so hopefully someone appropriate notices too and can make sure it gets attention, and can return to working in silence.

Sat Jun 12 04:38:49 +0000 2021 (#)

New walking track in “Totara Park” from near the top of Broderick St to near the top of McLintock Street seems to be open now (volunteers have been working on it for the last 18-24 months). About 600m, steady climb, about a dozen steps by Broderick Road but otherwise step free.

Sat Jun 12 04:53:58 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @GyledC

I don’t know!

Plans were posted for quite some time though, so any involved hobbits hopefully spoke up... 🤔

Sat Jun 12 05:19:56 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @nye_nicola

Recovery from burnout is tricky, especially for anyone prone to believing they “should”/“should be able to” do things.

The only thing I’ve found really helps is doing less. Way less. Skipping anything that doesn’t have to be done, and anything that doesn’t have to be done now.

Sat Jun 12 05:23:42 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @nye_nicola

As a poster my massage therapist has on her wall says: “how lovely it is to do nothing and then rest afterwards”.

After a while (weeks/months) it becomes interesting to do something different. But that’s just the start of recovery, so avoid overdoing anything (new or old).

Sat Jun 12 05:26:14 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @nye_nicola

I’d also say don’t do anything that doesn’t have to be done, and needs doing now, until well after things start seems interesting again.

(Burnout and chronic depression have some common features, including everything seeming “flat”; but they do feel different from the inside.)

Sat Jun 12 05:34:03 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @RealSexyCyborg: Honestly, if I ever have a daughter my advice is going to be "be so good they'll insist you must be a team of men"😁

Sun Jun 13 22:11:08 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ravenslofty and @nobunnysapro

The Twitter API for third party clients doesn’t include polls. So they don’t show.

Typically if it’s an interesting topic I click through to the web view to see the poll options. But actually answering requires logging in on another device, so I usually don’t answer polls...

Mon Jun 14 01:05:29 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @PowerDNS_Bert: Recently I needed to delve into the wonders of Reed-Solomon error correcting codes & soon I was sorely lost in a field o…

Mon Jun 14 21:18:08 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @hroethgar

Presumably this is still the same contract that “couldn’t be changed” back when it was first implemented and it turned out the choice of bus routes was... particularly chaotic.

(I want to believe Wellingtonians got something out of the renegotiation, but it’s not obvious 😢)

Tue Jun 15 00:51:08 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @kawaiiconNZ: Bust out the simulators and pack your freeze-dried snacks - our Call For Participation (CFP) is open!…

Wed Jun 16 02:02:57 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @attacus_au: oh look, that thing everyone was worried would happen with COVID check-in data, happened

Wed Jun 16 06:05:56 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ExcitedLeigh

Yeah :-/

Although I also think “hyper” independence gets defined from something like “a neurotypical perspective”.

(But there’s definitely a trauma history / independence correlation 😢)

Wed Jun 16 06:08:53 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @minxdragon

I feel like in the 21st century if a place doesn’t have their menus online, including allergens and/or ingredients (ideally both) then it’s not somewhere I’d want to go.

(Life got a lot easier with smartphones and 3/4/5G coverage, as I’d look things up on the spot.)

Wed Jun 16 06:13:10 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @minxdragon

(Re up thread) I also routinely used to carry a water bottle / snack bars into some “no outside food or drink” venues (eg movies) where I needed to be there for hours and they didn’t sell anything I could eat.

I feel like they broke the social contract first... 🤷‍♂️

Thu Jun 17 00:50:48 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ravenslofty

Fixed price project?

That’s approximately how I’d expect it to be described, but usually the project would be mentioned in the annotation line.

Mandatory fields (eg quantity) are wild 😃

Thu Jun 17 08:31:15 +0000 2021 (#)

Resets counter of “days since I’ve rescued a system with selinux enabled that broke its selinux policy/label database during OS upgrades” to 0.


Thu Jun 17 08:36:10 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Relatedly (but I think not my exact issue, although it had very useful hints) this RedHat Bugzilla selinux policy packaging issue. Which they just closed because they didn’t fix it before stopping supporting the OS version.

(One small bit got PR merged)

Fri Jun 18 05:34:35 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @RealSexyCyborg: Malware packages are basically point-and-click turnkey products for nation-states at this point and journalists are the…

Fri Jun 18 09:11:54 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @nickzoic

“politely” 😂

(I do agree “concede” / “nag later” is a terrible dark pattern UI choice. Unfortunately common these days though 😢)

Mon Jun 21 08:17:06 +0000 2021 (#)

Can you make wood transparent? Yes, but it’s really not easy. Both the chemistry and the process seem particularly fiddly.

A great example of applied science versus academic science, and the persistence required to reproduce results.

(Hat tip to @.esden for the heads up.)

Mon Jun 21 09:31:15 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @textfiles: If you didn't know there's a 2-hour concert of Joe Hisaishi works for Studio Ghibli and spanning 25 years of movies with a t…

Tue Jun 22 01:25:38 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @PyConAU: Ticket are now available for #PyConline AU 2021!

Tue Jun 22 01:57:44 +0000 2021 (#)

I bought my #PyConlineAU 2021 ticket and there was a “Join Online Event” button right there. So I tried it. “error code: access denied”.

I guess I’m going to have to wait months until I can actually join the online event 😢


Tue Jun 22 08:18:43 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @hroethgar

Yes, someone I know in group 3 was recently told “maybe July”.

For our age band I’m guessing late September at the earliest.

It seems one can have reasonably well managed lockdowns XOR reasonably well managed vaccine rollouts 😔

Tue Jun 22 22:09:32 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @andrewtychen: I am once again, asking you to please scan in and use NZ COVID Tracer. The best time to start using it is 14 days ago, th…

Wed Jun 23 03:37:11 +0000 2021 (#)

We got a phone emergency alert, so it must be true: the 6th #Covid19NZ level 2 period for Wellington (3rd for 2021, but the others this year were very short; this one may be short too 🤷‍♂️).

Wed Jun 23 08:23:42 +0000 2021 (#)

I watched this talk by @grantmnz (of my home town) about a sudoku web app expecting @crypticcracking to be mentioned, and indeed their channel, app and puzzles were mentioned at length.

For bonus fun I watched it whole doing a Genuinely Approachable Sudoku from their Discord 💖

Wed Jun 23 08:26:10 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

The Sudoku web app discussed uses SVG (hence the conference talk), and includes features like allowing users to create their own puzzles.

Wed Jun 23 08:34:16 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Source for the JS/SVG app by @.grantmnz is available, along with some (mostly computer generated?) example puzzles.

Wed Jun 23 09:12:55 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

In discussion with the @.crypticcracking web app developer (on the CtC Discord) Iearned that too is implemented using SVG. TIL :-)

Seems like SVG is pretty well suited to 2D “grid” style graphics with some interactivity.

Wed Jun 23 09:22:43 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

And for cross reference this is the original thread announcing the Sudoku Exchange site discussed in the NZ JS Conference talk.

Mostly aimed at classic Sudoku (the CtC app covers a lot of variants these days).

Wed Jun 23 10:17:57 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @grantmnz

Yes having seen a few “how I designed this Sudoku” videos on the CtC channnel now it seems like F-Puzzles is the tool of choice there.

Interesting talk, glad to see it got recorded!

Thu Jun 24 21:29:10 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @LapTop006

Looks like you were there later in the day though :-)

Fri Jun 25 01:18:55 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @hroethgar

It’s the network connected version only apparently. Which had its last firmware release in 2015. That was... checks calendar a while ago.

(The logs posted in the user form imply someone factory reset the devices. Which just seems mean.)

Fri Jun 25 05:57:25 +0000 2021 (#)

@catalyst_cloud please stop spamming former trial customers with “notifications” about services they never used.

Also provide a functional unsubscription facility (or any unsubscribe option TBH) to comply with NZ law.

Fri Jun 25 06:00:24 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @catalyst_cloud

Also maybe EOB on a Friday isn’t the best time to send out your (unsolicited commercial email) “service notifications”.

Users of the affected services are likely to miss them. And actual users of the services are the only ones you should be notifying.

Sat Jun 26 02:36:23 +0000 2021 (#)

“The Secret Life of the Lift” (remastered, re-released 2021-06-24) stands up really quite well to the passage of time, and shows how a lot of the important safety innovations actually work.

Sat Jun 26 22:22:28 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @hroethgar

Initial analysis suggests the (ethernet connected) WD My Book Live were factory reset via a shell meta character web API vulnerability found in 2018, that never got patched (due to end of support in 2015).

Sat Jun 26 22:32:29 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @lunasorcery: So let's talk about video game preservation, data hoarding, and Minecraft.

(🧵 thread)

Sat Jun 26 23:51:31 +0000 2021 (#)

“As it knows it’s been a hectic afternoon with events in the USA” starts this time capsule from nearly 20 years ago (2001-09-11 and the days after).

Running a suddenly high traffic in the days before CDNs was wild!

Sat Jun 26 23:54:35 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Found (months ago) via a mailing list discussion of operational issues people had lived through, which I’ve since lost.

(I still remember being woken early on 2001-09-12, in NZ, to help upgrade a router to cope with the traffic: that’s how I found out the news 😮)

Sun Jun 27 10:29:58 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @oe1cxw

“Got used to treating you” in a way that left you with PTSD, even after being told that was happening.

You may find useful this book written by a friend, about a bunch of similar experiences they had. Free online version available.

Mon Jun 28 06:38:35 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @womensart1: Photographer Cessna Kutz captured a rare natural phenomena, a horizontal rainbow known as a circumhorizontal arc, Lake Samm…

Mon Jun 28 07:41:40 +0000 2021 (#)

@slyall this NZ Internet FAQ from 1996 (that you maintained) is quite the time capsule of early NZ Internet access!

I didn’t know you’d started an ISP (found that on your blog “about” page). Seems to have been started quite early (1992?).

Mon Jun 28 22:16:34 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @slyall

Yes definitely upload them somewhere for historical record. Internet Archive would be good. Or maybe a git repo.

1994-06-22 is pretty early: I know Actrix was going by then (UUCP since about 1990, IP a couple of years later), but I’m not sure who the other one would be :-)

Tue Jun 29 07:34:36 +0000 2021 (#)

Unplanned candlelight dinner. So it’s definitely a winter storm! Fortunately is finished heating dinner before the power went out.

(Seems like it’s one phase in this area, as one nearby neighbour also lost power, but a couple of others nearby have not.)

Tue Jun 29 08:18:18 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Rarely have I been so grateful that one of my neighbours outside lights are nearly constantly on: they provide plenty of light to navigate my kitchen/bathroom.

(They used to often leave them on 24x7, apparently due to multi-way switch confusion; now I think it’s a light sensor.)

Tue Jun 29 08:26:17 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

About 25 minutes after my neighbour and I reported it, it appeared on the local electricity company website as a known outage. Affecting 3 streets (mine, and 2 around the corner).

So I guess the fault is very close to me!

(ETR is late evening, still with “cause unknown”.)

Tue Jun 29 08:36:17 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @minxdragon

It’s also completely unrealistic. 20+ years of my (senior) IT life has been pretty much The Matrix “I need this new skill” / “download enough of skill into my brain to solve the problem, then move on”.

Surely “learns quickly” is best tested open book?!

Wed Jun 30 05:43:44 +0000 2021 (#)

I have a feeling that RedHat Consulting’s recommendation of 4GB RAM for this software stack is a bit light, at least now it’s on RHEL 8.4 — epmd (smbd) wants 8-10GB (~ 3GB resident) all for itself after ~2 weeks 😬

Wed Jun 30 05:49:13 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

FTR I’m fairly sure there’s a memory leak in the epmd part of smbd, at least in Samba 4.13.3 shipped with RHEL 8.4.

epmd freshly restarted needs about 300MB, ie well below 8-10GB. But seems to grow 20-30MB in the first hour alone.

(Maybe fixed in Samba upstream 4.13.9?)

Wed Jun 30 06:45:55 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Based on an hour or so of background analysis it seems like the RHEL 8.4 epmd (smbd) memory leak is 2904kB / 5 minutes, repeatedly, on a basically idle system. Which is about 10GB in 13 days. Oh dear 😢

(Sadly no Samba RHEL 8.4 update pending.)

Wed Jun 30 06:49:48 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

FWIW Samba 4.13.9 (May 2021) includes two memory leak fixes. Not sure if they’re my one, but RHEL 8.4 using Samba 4.13.3 concerns me. (4.13.9 is the latest 4.13 release; there’s also 4.14 releases too where 4.14.3 fixes leaks.)