Twitter: @ewenmcneill -- October 2021

Thu Sep 30 21:40:10 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @__fincham

Do you know how that differs from “dateregistered” which has been there from the beginning (although pre 1998 dates are “database import” dates more than true first registration)?

(For all the domains I’ve checked they seem to be identical date time.)

Thu Sep 30 23:47:17 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @__fincham

Interesting! So “first registered by anyone” rather than “start of this registration”.

I guess that’s potentially useful to know (eg phishing domain detection). But it would seem to reward reregistering older lapsed domains (eg found by web history search) 🤔

Sun Oct 03 08:54:49 +0000 2021 (#)

This “Mechanical Design” video (from a mechanical perspective) covers a lot of the high points of being a good engineer in any discipline. Including learning more about the context: how it will be fabricated, used/misused, etc.

Also some great comments.

Mon Oct 04 20:51:23 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @bcrypt: i hereby declare today to be BGP Awareness Day

Mon Oct 04 23:44:29 +0000 2021 (#)

Fun thread of outages wisdom, but this item on truly out of band admin access for those “in case of emergency break glass” moments is the key thing I try to tell all my network clients.

You don’t need it, until you do. Then you really need it.

Tue Oct 05 02:58:33 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @Foone: new SRE exercise: imagine all the digital locks have broken and are keeping you out, and you can't connect in via the network.…

Tue Oct 05 03:36:25 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @jillrouleau

DNS. It’s not called “unix”. I think it’s under 10 years old. But yeah 😬

(18 months into a 3 month project to replace it and it finally seems like we’re getting close. Perl is definitely still involved though…. )

Tue Oct 05 05:31:06 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @__fincham

Net weight 425g, drained weight 130g 😬

Tue Oct 05 07:58:06 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @__fincham

Cost efficient for manufacture, maybe.

Possibly not the cheapest way to get 295g of liquid though… 🤔

Tue Oct 05 08:02:57 +0000 2021 (#)

This “Extended, Director’s Cut” 3 part (each ~1 hour) talk on puzzle design is fascinating, with examples from physical puzzles, logic puzzles, computer games, etc. (Extended version of a GDC2021 talk.)

Tue Oct 05 21:16:09 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @__fincham

I can 100% see how community tags affecting localpref would work within an AS. But it’s less clear how that’d work for multiple external anycast islands facing other AS.

Maybe AS path stuff the announcements of “I don’t think I’m best but if there’s nobody else” nodes…? 🤔

Wed Oct 06 00:16:15 +0000 2021 (#)

Disappointed to see NZ has rapidly switched this week from “protecting the population while we vaccinate” for #NZCovid19 to “please rush to get vaccinated ASAP, including bringing second dose forward” (announced today).

Wed Oct 06 00:19:49 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

First date a lot of the poplulation could book a #NZCovid19 vaccination was early September 2021, which auto-scheduled second dose next week (+6 weeks, mid October) or later.

But now last (recommended) date for second dose is roughly mid October 😮

Wed Oct 06 00:23:16 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

TBH the most disappointing thing is that the Government #NZCovid19 response no longer feels coherent or pre-planned. Instead this week seems very “in the moment” reactive. Which is sad after the 2020 response was handled so efficiently.

Wed Oct 06 00:29:48 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Guess I now consider if I move my second dose a few days earlier (currently pre-scheduled for next week).

Government advice now seems to be “second dose 3-6 weeks after first”, not “3 weeks after” (July) or “6 weeks after” (August/September).

Wed Oct 06 01:35:05 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @kawaiiconNZ: Hold, Hold, Hold Range safety issues New T-0 pending

Wed Oct 06 01:38:36 +0000 2021 (#)

Rescheduled second #Covid19NZ dose for Friday, at a location closer to me than the first.

There’s lots of available vaccination slots, so if you’re considering moving your second dose earlier, I’d say go for it. (There are slots available today if that suits your schedule.)

Wed Oct 06 02:14:52 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @attacus_au

Also the NZ Government have been hinting that large events in NZ are soon likely to require (by law) proof of vaccine to attend; 2019 Kawaiicon is pretty likely large enough (~2000 attendees, indoors) to be brought under any new rule like that.

Wed Oct 06 03:47:41 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @jonoxer

Yeah :-/

I’m hopeful New Zealand made it to the “vaccine supplies available” stage, so it’s at least possible to vaccinate everyone. (We’re 4 weeks into “anyone 12+ can book”, and October was scheduled “majority of vaccine orders to arrive(d)” anyway, but 😬)

Wed Oct 06 03:50:37 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @jonoxer

For reference when I looked to move my second dose forward a few days, I saw ~500 appointments within 1km of me (ie walking distance) available over the next couple of days.

I only went with Friday as my schedule tomorrow is a bit chaotic and “weekend to recover” seemed a bonus.

Wed Oct 06 06:41:08 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @mattblaze: I have a lot more confidence in the reliability of services whose engineers say “I constantly worry that what happened at FB…

Wed Oct 06 09:43:50 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @insertbird and @__fincham

If you can afford to dedicate a /23 to anycast (not always a given these days 😢) then the “always advertise supernet, if good advertise more specific” is a reasonable approach. (It does result in 2 routes in global table though, but so does lots of traffic engineering.)

Wed Oct 06 23:06:12 +0000 2021 (#)

TIL I can persuade Ansible not to load an (unnecessary) vault for a delegated host with:

Task: delegate_to: fakename


[group] fakename ansible_host=realname

Context: vault contains a secret needed to first set up thing, but not to use it on behalf of other hosts.

Wed Oct 06 23:21:45 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

AFAICT Ansible even prints the realname (ansible_host) as the “delegated to” name in the run output. So this seems to just be a really convoluted way to say “you don’t need to know what is in that vault now, honest”.

There’s a large comment above this kludge for when it breaks.

Thu Oct 07 00:17:45 +0000 2021 (#)

New Zealand now has two variations of #NZCovid19 “Level 3” active simultaneously 😮

There is “Auckland Level 3, 2021-10-06 version” and “Waikato Level 3, 2021 version” (extended today, was Hamilton City earlier in the week).

(Plus Yet Another (tm) Level 2 variant for others.)

Thu Oct 07 07:00:05 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @EMSL: Picture thread 🧵: We recently had the opportunity to take some close-up pictures of the LED display used in the HP 9825 computer.…

Thu Oct 07 10:14:32 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @yaakov_h

I’d probably start with the default list that sudo propagates to child processes (eg in Debian), and add anything else especially relevant to your use case. (Most often if I add anything to sudo’s list it is for auth, eg SSH agent related ones.)

Fri Oct 08 03:50:32 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @jeamland and @ExcitedLeigh

Is a NULL-terminated char *, in C, ASCII, UTF-8, ISO-8859, or something else?

(I suspect for the Linux kernel / file system this is a “mechanism not policy” thing. And tooling using extended attributes is what matters to your question. For which the answer is probably “yes”.)

Mon Oct 11 05:43:41 +0000 2021 (#)

“That’s right the circle goes in the triangle hole”

“… and the cross hole.”

@makersmuse proving that the “shape” of an object really does depend on how you look at it 😃

Wed Oct 13 04:59:27 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @FiloSottile: You need random bytes. You call the platform API.

If that fails or is not available, you return an error, raise an except…

Wed Oct 13 07:33:02 +0000 2021 (#)

NZIFF 2021 Terms and Conditions: “NZIFF 2021 will only be held at Alert Level 1”

NZIFF 2021 Programme Announcement: “We are delighted that even at level 2 we can screen […] our programme”


Wed Oct 13 07:37:56 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

As best I can tell that’s the only discussion of Covid-19 on the NZIFF site: no mention of vaccination status, masks, reduced numbers, etc.

Just “only screening in theatres”, “stay home if you are unwell”. That’s maybe okay for Level 1, but worrying for Delta Level 2 😬

Wed Oct 13 07:41:20 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

For those overseas, NZIFF already cancelled the Auckland part of the festival, last week, due to it being the centre of that Covid-19 Delta outbreak and in “Delta Level 3 Step 1”, likely through the festival dates.

(No streaming version this year 😢)

Wed Oct 13 08:57:36 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @Ganny2982

The screenshot you included is on the same page that says NZIFF will only go ahead in Level 1.

Yes, obviously they’ll follow the various venue rules too, and NZ law as it applies on the day.

But there’s a lack of detail on how it’ll work, and inconsistent information :-/

Thu Oct 14 20:56:33 +0000 2021 (#)

How it started:


How it’s going:

#!/bin/sh PYTHON=$(head -1 $(command -v ansible) | sed 's/^#!//; s/^ //; s/\/usr\/bin\/env //; s/ .$//;') "${PYTHON}" <(cat <<EOF EOF )

Thu Oct 14 20:58:39 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

This line noise brought to you by the people who chose to make Python so incompatible with itself that other people decided “the best thing would be if there was no /usr/bin/python”.

I’m here to tell you: those people were wrong 😢

Thu Oct 14 21:01:02 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Also FTR I think your shell needs to be bash or similar for <() to work. So maybe best:


In the second example.

I do have this in production. No I’m not proud of that. But it’s the least bad option available given the constraints (base OS, many Linux distros).

Thu Oct 14 21:02:56 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

Ironically I can (with some difficulty) write Python that works on Python 2.6 through 3.9 simultaneously.

That doesn’t really help if I can’t reliably find a python interpreter to run it :-(

Systems Programming 😔

Thu Oct 14 21:04:38 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

I’d also probably have given up and written the script in something else (eg Perl). But here I have to load Ansible Python libraries to do host inventory discovery in a less “provide all the vault passwords” way than Ansible… to figure out which vault password are needed 😬

Thu Oct 14 21:22:35 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @__fincham

That’s the “application development” way, yes, huge monolithic app + runtime bundles.

Here we have 3 Ansible servers deployed on three OS, each installed from OS packages… and if I gave up on that I’d probably just run it inside a consistent Docker container.

Thu Oct 14 23:26:46 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @nickzoic

There’s no /usr/bin/python on modern Linux distros (unless you install extra things, which may or may not be installed). And besides here I need “the Python Ansible is using” (to import its libraries). So we consult the #! line of Ansible. Those are surprisingly varied 😮

Fri Oct 15 07:31:37 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @slyall

I suspect a lot of the later infection areas are more isolated or more insular (ie only come in contact with the same set of people). So until someone carries it into the area, there’s no one infected.

Possibly disease spread is a way to measure degree of social connections?

Fri Oct 15 07:58:30 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @wkeenan: sound on...

Sat Oct 16 00:20:43 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @apollo_50th: Apollo Lunar Module (LM-2) photographed by Alfred Harrell, October 15, 1971. The unflown LM was part of an exhibition in t…

Sat Oct 16 04:57:06 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @theavalkyrie

There’s about a year of back story, including Naomi being left off the ballot last year when she wanted to be on it. Yes she’s confirmed she was added to the ballot this year, by someone else, without her permission or being given the chance to answer same questions as others.

Sun Oct 17 08:42:19 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @xssfox

“CQ CQ DE @xssfox”

If they want to talk they’ll respond with two numbers indicating they’re hearing you and are able to talk with you.


Sun Oct 17 20:13:16 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @BR3NDA

Marketing meaning approximately “particularly nutritionally dense food”, or (believed to be) especially likely to bring health benefits (eg “powerful antioxidant”).

Various smoothie additions (spirulina being one of them) tend to be put in this category.

Mon Oct 18 09:14:25 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @minxdragon

Older iPad? My iPad Mini 4 (so ~5 years old) is a bit inclined to drop keystrokes especially if I’m touch typing on it with multiple fingers. I’d put that down to slower CPU and it interpreting two taps being “at once” and as a double tap.

(Cleaning screen helps a bit.)

Mon Oct 18 20:40:17 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @minxdragon


That’s rather too young to be running out of CPU to watch for keystrokes :-(

And I agree intermittent keyboard issues are super annoying!

Tue Oct 19 00:55:56 +0000 2021 (#)

TBH the part which gave me the most hope in today’s #NZCovid19 press conference was where there were multiple questions and answers in Maori 💖

(AFAIK there’s no translation; Maori is an official language of Aotearoa.)

Tue Oct 19 07:53:29 +0000 2021 (#)

There’s multiple layers of “but wait, there’s more” discoveries in the back story of this “I forgot I bid on that” eBay auction win, starting with “it works, after shipping”. (First posted 2021-09-22.)

CW: some flickering video from about 15 minutes in.

Tue Oct 19 07:56:52 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @kenshirriff: how it started: how it’s going:

Wed Oct 20 02:40:26 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @aurynn

After (over ) a year it does probably make sense to move on from “Early Access” (on the Patreon page) :-)

(Curiously Patreon also tells me the Cloud Island Patron page is 18+, which seems weird as there’s just a few text announcements there… 🤔)

Wed Oct 20 05:01:56 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @__fincham

“Tasty power supply! May I have another?” :^)

(Glad to hear the fix was just “plug in unused random spare” rather than rebuilding a file system; those lost inodes earlier had me worried…)

Thu Oct 21 06:14:39 +0000 2021 (#)

I’m really glad that the @embeddedfm podcast decided to repeat Episode 230, interviewing Sunshine Jones about synths, documentation, and music. It’s instantly one of my favorite episodes of the podcast 💜

(Stay to the end for a great outro track!)

Thu Oct 21 07:38:40 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @theavalkyrie


(There’s some Twitch streams — “esden” — earlier this year with circuit boards design but it was heavily based on a commercial keyboard model, with permission, so it looks like the PCB design isn’t released.)

Fri Oct 22 04:06:27 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @farmgeek: Just a reminder that 90% of the eligible population is 76% of the whole population. Thats’s a quarter of us still unprotect…

Fri Oct 22 19:40:03 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @typesfast: When you're designing an operation you must choose your bottleneck. If the bottleneck appears somewhere that you didn't choo…

Fri Oct 22 19:40:14 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @typesfast: The ports shutting down is worse than Lehman Brothers failing. Both can lead to catastrophic failures of all counter parties…

Mon Oct 25 23:25:18 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @attacus_au: in my view, the fact that a corporation has been able to take the literal connections between us and the people in our live…

Wed Oct 27 06:47:35 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @minxdragon and @pjf

These bands, yes? I don’t think I’ve heard of any of them before.

Is there a specific album you’d suggest as a start for someone who doesn’t especially like metal but does like electronic music / prog rock?

Wed Oct 27 20:14:29 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @minxdragon

Thanks for the suggestions!

I’ll start exploring with those and see what appeals. I think Boundless came up first in my search for PT, and it did sound intriguing in the few seconds I let play :-)

Wed Oct 27 21:18:54 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @kiwitoa

It seems like “takahē” as a noun is a bird, and “takahē” as a verb is “wrongness”.

Are these homonyms related in their history / etymology? Or is it just random chance that they’ve come to be spelled and pronounced the same?

Thu Oct 28 01:45:27 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @developerjack: I'm very not ok with this.

Thu Oct 28 04:19:55 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ExcitedLeigh

I hope you get to travel to see your loved ones soon. However that happens 💕

I’m intrigued that Melbourne is potentially suffering from “too big a denominator” in its percentages. NZ appears to be using too small a denominator (health registered, not stats population) 🤔

Thu Oct 28 21:20:56 +0000 2021 (#)

A month later and @NZInlandRevenue has simply archived my repeated request via MyIR, without doing anything, or even replying. So it’s now ~45 working day since my original request (“estimated 15 working days”), and I still don’t have what I need, or any meaningful response.

Thu Oct 28 21:24:13 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @NZInlandRevenue

After much hunting I found the (now well hidden) “Business Customers” phone number (0800 377 774) for IRD and called.

It collected my company and personal IRD numbers, other personal information, then told me it couldn’t take my call and hung up 😔

Thu Oct 28 21:27:12 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @NZInlandRevenue

Which means I still don’t know when IRD will provide the critical piece of paper (expires every 12 months) needed to get paid for work I did in August.

Other tax authorities provide this paperwork on request via a web form. IRD does not, and makes it nearly impossible to get 😢

Thu Oct 28 21:33:20 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @NZInlandRevenue

Despite the IRD website redesign (to hide messaging 😔) it still remains impossible to see both the message you’re trying to quote and the message you are writing at the same time.

Or reply to messages. At all.

Fri Oct 29 06:38:20 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @RealSexyCyborg: Before signing sponsorship agreements with local companies I eat in their worker canteen, check out their dorms, exchan…

Fri Oct 29 06:38:51 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @evacide: When I tell audiences at hacking conferences that“the choices that you make matter,” this is what I’m talking about. You don’t…

Fri Oct 29 08:44:35 +0000 2021 (#)

RT @hacks4pancakes: Violations of widespread consumer right to repair, privacy, security, etc that we kludge personally with our technical…

Fri Oct 29 21:58:50 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ravenslofty

Definitely known here, but yes could be a Britishism as here is A Former British Colony (tm).

Sat Oct 30 05:08:13 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @hroethgar

Like any group project some people doing the group project is better than no people doing the group project.

But there being no consequences for “not doing the group project” — or following the rules — means it’s soon seen as “more of a suggestion than an obligation”. By all 😢

Sat Oct 30 05:12:46 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @hroethgar

TBH it seems to me the turning point in NZ was when the police / government refused to strictly enforce the rules against widely known blatent rule breakers.

At that point they lost “we’re all in this together”, and then rapidly switched to “Hope vaccinations reduce the impact”.

Sun Oct 31 05:41:20 +0000 2021 (#)

Fairly impressed that the NZ My Health Account (required to access it #NZCovid19 vaccination record) guides people towards creating longer passwords, although ideally they wouldn’t support “short” passwords at all (7 chars, upper/lower/number isn’t very secure 😬)

Sun Oct 31 05:43:46 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

The NZ My Health Account also verifies the email address as the first part of the signup, even before you can chose a password (good) and there’s a suggestion in “my identity” page they’ll do 2FA with an email and/or text message (if number provided), which should at least help.

Sun Oct 31 05:47:34 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

To actually see your #NZCovid19 vaccination record your need to verify your identity by providing details from a NZ Driver’s License, NZ/AU passport, NZ/AU birth certificate, or NZ citizenship certificate. Which it then auto matches to find NHI number.

Sun Oct 31 05:50:57 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

If you have one or more of those documents handy then the process is pretty quick (although it seems to send details to third party verifier from reading privacy policies).

But if you don’t, it’s unclear how you get to see your #NZCovid19 vaccination record online 😟

Sun Oct 31 05:53:43 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @ewenmcneill

If you don’t have any of the identity documents My Health Account requires, or a verified RealMe account (requires similar documents, in person, IIRC) then it may be you can’t get access to digital proof of #NZCovid19 vaccination.

Which raises “equal access” questions 🤔

Sun Oct 31 06:23:54 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @martinkrafft

I agree it’s sad that it’s built on a (presumably) Australian hosted public cloud. But that’s unfortunately very standard in Goverment procurement at present 😢

TBH I suspect doing that made for a faster build, and at least the ID verification third party seemed to be NZ owned.

Sun Oct 31 06:33:46 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @martinkrafft and @CatalystNZ

Largely because there’s a bunch of Government pre-approved developers that already know how to use AWS/Azure and the built in services.

And not how to use Catalyst Cloud, or BYO the extra services they need equivalent to AWS/Azure.

Which is also a wider procurement problem…

Sun Oct 31 06:44:50 +0000 2021 (#)

Replying to @martinkrafft

Precisely. It’s a symptom of a larger problem.

Ironically there was a Government Computing Service in the 1980s/1990s. Later called GCS Ltd. But we sold it to EDS a couple of decades ago, then moved to multinational public clouds more recently 😔