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Jonathan Dowland: Hans Rosling and Steve Hewlett

22 February, 2017 - 18:13

I've begun to listen to BBC4's "More Or Less" Podcast. They recently had an episode covering the life and work of Hans Rosling, the inspirational swedish statistician, who has sadly died of pancreatic cancer. It was very moving. Some of Professor Rosling's videos are available to view online. I've heard that they are very much worth watching.

Over the last few months I have also been listening to regular updates by BBC broadcaster Steve Hewlett on his own journey as a cancer sufferer. These were remarkably frank discussions of the ins and outs of his diagnosis, treatment, and the practical consequences on his everyday life. I was very sad to tune in on Monday evening and hear a series of repeated clips from his previous appearances on the PM show, as the implications were clear. And indeed, Steve Hewlett died from oesophagal cancer on Monday. Here's an obituary in the Guardian.

Junichi Uekawa: Trying to use Termux on chromebook.

22 February, 2017 - 16:42
Trying to use Termux on chromebook. I am exclusively using chromebook for my client side work. Android apps work on this device, and so does Termux. I was pondering how to make things more useful, like using Download directory integration and chrome apps, but not quite got things set up. Then I noticed that it's possible to use sshd on termux. It only accepts public key authentication, but that's enough for me. I can now use my SecureShell chrome app to connect and get things working. Android apps don't support all the keybinds but SecureShell does, which improves my life a bit.

Joey Hess: early spring

22 February, 2017 - 11:51

Sun is setting after 7 (in the JEST TZ); it's early spring. Batteries are generally staying above 11 volts, so it's time to work on the porch (on warmer days), running the inverter and spinning up disc drives that have been mostly off since fall. Back to leaving the router on overnight so my laptop can sync up before I wake up.

Not enough power yet to run electric lights all evening, and there's still a risk of a cloudy week interrupting the climb back up to plentiful power. It's happened to me a couple times before.

Also, turned out that both of my laptop DC-DC power supplies developed partial shorts in their cords around the same time. So at first I thought it was some problem with the batteries or laptop, but eventually figured it out and got them replaced. (This may have contributed the the cliff earier; seemed to be worst when house voltage was low.)

Soon, 6 months of more power than I can use..

Previously: battery bank refresh late summer the cliff

Shirish Agarwal: The Indian elections hungama

22 February, 2017 - 06:11

Before I start, I would like to point out #855549 . This is a normal/wishlist bug I have filed against apt, the command-line package manager. I sincerely believe having a history command to know what packages were installed, which were upgraded, which were purged should be easily accessible, easily understood and if the output looks pretty, so much the better. Of particular interest to me is having a list of new packages I have installed in last couple of years after jessie became the stable release. It probably would make for some interesting reading. I dunno how much efforts would be to code something like that, but if it works, it would be the greatest. Apt would have finally arrived. Not that it’s a bad tool, it’s just that it would then make for a heck of a useful tool.

Coming back to the topic on hand, Now for the last couple of weeks we don’t have water or rather pressure of water. Water crisis has been hitting Pune every year since 2014 with no end in sight. This has been reported in newspapers addendum but it seems it has been felling on deaf ears. The end result of it is that I have to bring buckets of water from around 50 odd metres.

It’s not a big thing, it’s not like some women in some villages in Rajasthan who have to walk in between 200 metres to 5 odd kilometres to get potable water or Darfur, Western Sudan where women are often kidnapped and sold as sexual slaves when they get to fetch water. The situation in Darfur has been shown quite vividly in Darfur is Dying . It is possible that I may have mentioned about Darfur before. While unfortunately the game is in flash as a web resource, the most disturbing part is that the game is extremely depressing, there is a no-win scenario.

So knowing and seeing both those scenarios, I can’t complain about 50 metres. BUT….but… when you extrapolate the same data over some more or less 3.3-3.4 million citizens, 3.1 million during 2011 census with a conservative 2.3-2.4 percent population growth rate according to

Fortunately or unfortunately, Pune Municipal Corporation elections were held today. Fortunately or unfortunately, this time all the political parties bought majorly unknown faces in these elections. For e.g. I belong to ward 14 which is spread over quite a bit of area and has around 10k of registered voters.

Now the unfortunate part of having new faces in elections, you don’t know anything about them. Apart from the affidavits filed, the only thing I come to know is whether there are criminal cases filed against them and what they have shown as their wealth.

While I am and should be thankful to ADR which actually is the force behind having the collated data made public. There is a lot of untold story about political push-back by all the major national and regional political parties even when this bit of news were to be made public. It took major part of a decade for such information to come into public domain.

But for my purpose of getting clean air and water supply 24×7 to each household seems a very distant dream. I tried to connect with the corporators about a week before the contest and almost all of the lower party functionaries hid behind their political parties manifestos stating they would do the best without any viable plan.

For those not knowing, India has been blessed with 6 odd national parties and about 36 odd regional parties and every election some 20-25 new parties try their luck every time.

The problem is we, the public, don’t trust them or their manifestos. First of all the political parties themselves engage in mud-slinging as to who’s copying whom with the manifesto.Even if a political party wins the elections, there is no *real* pressure for them to follow their own manifesto. This has been going for many a year. OF course, we the citizens are to also blame as most citizens for one reason or other chose to remain aloof of the process. I scanned/leafed through all the manifestos and all of them have the vague-wording ‘ we will make Pune tanker-free’ without any implementation details. While I was unable to meet the soon-to-be-Corporators, I did manage to meet a few of the assistants but all the meetings were entirely fruitless.

I asked why can’t the city follow the Chennai model. Chennai, not so long ago was at the same place where Pune is, especially in relation to water. What happened next, in 2001 has been beautifully chronicled in Hindustan Times . What has not been shared in that story is that the idea was actually fielded by one of Chennai Mayor’s assistants, an IAS Officer, I have forgotten her name, Thankfully, her advise/idea was taken to heart by the political establishment and they drove RWH.

Saying why we can’t do something similar in Pune, I heard all kinds of excuses. The worst and most used being ‘Marathas can never unite’ which I think is pure bullshit. For people unfamiliar to the term, Marathas was a warrior clan in Shivaji’s army. Shivaji, the king of Marathas were/are an expert tactician and master of guerilla warfare. It is due to the valor of Marathas, that we still have the Maratha Light Infantry a proud member of the Indian army.

Why I said bullshit was the composition of people living in Maharashtra has changed over the decades. While at one time both the Brahmins and the Marathas had considerable political and population numbers, that has changed drastically. Maharashtra and more pointedly, Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur have become immigrant centres. Why just a decade back, Shiv Sena, an ultra right-wing political party used to play the Maratha card at each and every election and heckle people coming from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, this has been documented as the 2008 immigrants attacks and 9 years later we see Shiv Sena trying to field its candidates in Uttar Pradesh. So, obviously they cannot use the same tactics which they could at one point of time.

One more reason I call it bullshit, is it’s a very lame excuse. When the Prime Minister of the country calls for demonetization which affects 1.25 billion people, people die, people stand in queues and is largely peaceful, I do not see people resisting if they bring a good scheme. I almost forgot, as an added sweetener, the Chennai municipality said that if you do RWH and show photos and certificates of the job, you won’t have to pay as much property tax as otherwise you would, that also boosted people’s participation.

And that is not the only solution, one more solution has been outlined in ‘Aaj Bhi Khade hain talaab’ written by just-deceased Gandhian environmental activist Anupam Mishra. His Book can be downloaded for free at India Water Portal . Unfortunately, the said book doesn’t have a good English translation till date. Interestingly, all of his content is licensed under public domain (CC-0) so people can continue to enjoy and learn from his life-work.

Another lesson or understanding could be taken from Israel, the father of the modern micro-drip irrigation for crops. One of the things on my bucket lists is to visit Israel and if possible learn how they went from a water-deficient country to a water-surplus one.

Which brings me to my second conundrum, most of the people believe that it’s the Government’s job to provide jobs to its people. India has been experiencing jobless growth for around a decade now, since the 2008 meltdown. While India was lucky to escape that, most of its trading partners weren’t hence it slowed down International trade which slowed down creation of new enterprises etc. Laws such as the Bankruptcy law and the upcoming Goods and Services Tax . As everybody else, am a bit excited and a bit apprehensive about how the actual implementation will take place.

Even International businesses has been found wanting. The latest example has been Uber and Ola. There have been protests against the two cab/taxi aggregators operating in India. For the millions of jobless students coming out of schools and Universities, there aren’t simply enough jobs for them, nor are most (okay 50%) of them qualified for the jobs, these 50 percent are also untrainable, so what to do ?

In reality, this is what keeps me awake at night. India is sitting on this ticking bomb-shell. It is really, a miracle that the youths have not rebelled yet.

While all the conditions, proposals and counter-proposals have been shared before, I wanted/needed to highlight it. While the issue seems to be local, I would assert that they are all glocal in nature. The questions we are facing, I’m sure both developing and to some extent even developed countries have probably been affected by it. I look forward to know what I can learn from them.

Filed under: Miscellenous Tagged: #Anupam Mishra, #Bankruptcy law, #Chennai model, #clean air, #clean water, #elections, #GST, #immigrant, #immigrants, #Maratha, #Maratha Light Infantry, #migration, #national parties, #Political party manifesto, #regional parties, #ride-sharing, #water availability, Rain Water Harvesting

Steinar H. Gunderson: 8-bit Y'CbCr ought to be enough for anyone?

22 February, 2017 - 05:07

If you take a random computer today, it's pretty much a given that it runs a 24-bit mode (8 bits of each of R, G and B); as we moved from palettized displays at some point during the 90s, we quickly went past 15- and 16-bit and settled on 24-bit. The reasons are simple; 8 bits per channel is easy to work with on CPUs, and it's on the verge of what human vision can distinguish, at least if you add some dither. As we've been slowly taking the CPU off the pixel path and replacing it with GPUs (which has specialized hardware for more kinds of pixels formats), changing formats have become easier, and there's some push to 10-bit (30-bit) “deep color” for photo pros, but largely, 8-bit per channel is where we are.

Yet, I'm now spending time adding 10-bit input (and eventually also 10-bit output) to Nageru. Why? The reason is simple: Y'CbCr.

Video traditionally isn't done in RGB, but in Y'CbCr; that is, a black-and-white signal (Y) and then two color-difference signals (Cb and Cr, roughly “additional blueness“ and “additional redness”, respectively). We started doing this because it was convenient in analog TV (if you separate the two, black-and-white TVs can just ignore the color signal), but we kept doing it because it's very nice for reducing bandwidth: Human vision is much less sensitive to color than to brightness, so we can transfer the color channels in lower resolution and get away with it. (Also, a typical Bayer sensor can't deliver full color resolution anyway.) So most cameras and video codecs work in Y'CbCr, not RGB.

Let's look at the implications of using 8-bit Y'CbCr, using a highly simplified model for, well, simplicity. Let's define Y = 1/3 (R + G + B), Cr = R - Y and Cb = B - Y. (The reverse transformation becomes R = Y + Cr, B = Y + Cb and G = 3Y - R - B.)

This means that an RGB color such as pure gray ([127, 127, 127]) becomes [127, 0, 0]. All is good, and Y can go from 0 to 255, just like R, G and B can. A pure red ([255, 0, 0]) becomes [85, 170, 0], and a pure blue ([255, 0, 0]) becomes correspondingly [85, 0, 170]. But we can also have negative Cr and Cb values; a pure yellow ([0, 255, 255]) becomes [170, -170, 85], for instance. So we need to squeeze values from -170 to +170 into an 8-bit range, losing accuracy.

Even worse, there are valid Y'CbCr triplets that don't correspond to meaningful RGB colors at all. For instance, Y'CbCr [255, 170, 0] would be RGB [425, 85, 255]; R is out of range! And Y'CbCr [255, -170, 0] would be RGB [85, -85, 255], that is, negative green.

This isn't a problem for compression, as we can just avoid using those illegal “colors” with no loss of efficiency. But it means that the conversion in itself causes a loss; actually, if you do the maths on the real formulas (using the BT.601 standard), it turns out only 17% of the 24-bit Y'CbCr code words are valid!

In other words, we lose about two and a half bits of data, and our 24 bits of accuracy have been reduced to 21.5. Or, to put it another way; 8-bit Y'CbCr is roughly equivalent to 7-bit RGB.

Thus, pretty much all professional video uses 10-bit Y'CbCr. It's much more annoying to deal with (especially when you've got subsampling!), but if you're using SDI, there's not even any 8-bit version defined, so if you insist on 8-bit, you're taking data you're getting on the wire (whether you want it or not) and throwing 20% of it away. UHDTV standards (using HEVC) are also simply not defined for 8-bit; it's 10- and 12-bit only, even on the codec level. Parts of this is because UHDTV also supports HDR, so you have a wider RGB range than usual to begin with, and 8-bit would cause excessive banding.

Using it on the codec level makes a lot of sense for another reason, namely that you reduce internal roundoff errors during processing by a lot; errors equal noise, and noise is bad for compression. I've seen numbers of 15% lower bitrate for H.264 at the same quality, although you also have to take into account that the encoeder also needs more CPU power that you could have used for a higher preset in 8-bit. I don't know how the tradeoff here works out, and you also have to take into account decoder support for 10-bit, especially when it comes to hardware. (When it comes to HEVC, Intel didn't get full fixed-function 10-bit support before Kaby Lake!)

So indeed, 10-bit Y'CbCr makes sense even for quite normal video. It isn't a no-brainer to turn it on, though—even though Nageru uses a compute shader to convert the 4:2:2 10-bit Y'CbCr to something the GPU can sample from quickly (ie., the CPU doesn't need to touch it), and all internal processing is in 16-bit floating point anyway, it still takes a nonzero amount of time to convert compared to just blasting through 8-bit, so my ultraportable probably won't make it anymore. (A discrete GPU has no issues at all, of course. My laptop converts a 720p frame in about 1.4 ms, FWIW.) But it's worth considering when you want to squeeze even more quality out of the system.

And of course, there's still 10-bit output support to be written...

Reproducible builds folks: Reproducible Builds: week 95 in Stretch cycle

22 February, 2017 - 01:25

Here's what happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday February 12 and Saturday February 18 2017:

Upcoming Events

The Reproducible Build Zoo will be presented by Vagrant Cascadian at the Embedded Linux Conference in Portland, Oregon, February 22nd.

Introduction to Reproducible Builds will be presented by Vagrant Cascadian at Scale15x in Pasadena, California, March 5th.

Toolchain development and fixes

Ximin Luo posted a preliminary spec for BUILD_PATH_PREFIX_MAP, bringing together work and research from previous weeks.

Ximin refactored and consolidated much of our existing documentation on both SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH and BUILD_PATH_PREFIX_MAP into one unified page, Standard Environment Variables, with extended discussion on related solutions and how these all fit into people's ideas of what reproducible builds should look like in the long term. The specific pages for each variable still remain, at Timestamps Proposal and Build Path Proposal, only without content that was previously duplicated on both pages.

Ximin filed #855282 against devscripts for debsign(1) to support buildinfo files, and wrote an initial series of patches for it with some further additions from Guillem Jover.

Packages reviewed and fixed, and bugs filed

Chris Lamb:

Reviews of unreproducible packages

35 package reviews have been added, 1 have been updated and 17 have been removed in this week, adding to our knowledge about identified issues.

1 issue type has been added:

Weekly QA work

During our reproducibility testing, the following FTBFS bugs have been detected and reported by:

  • Chris Lamb (2)
diffoscope development

diffoscope 77 was uploaded to unstable by Mattia Rizzolo. It included contributions from:

  • Chris Lamb:
    • Some fixes to tests and testing config
    • Don't track archive directory locations, a better fix for CVE-2017-0359.
    • Add --exclude option. Closes: #854783
  • Mattia Rizzolo:
    • Add my key to debian/upstream/signing-key.asc
    • Add CVE-2017-0359 to the changelog of v76
  • Ximin Luo:
    • When extracting archives, try to keep directory sizes small
strip-nondeterminism development

strip-nondeterminism 0.031-1 was uploaded to unstable by Chris Lamb. It included contributions from:

  • Chris Lamb:
    • Make the tests less brittle, by not testing for stat(2) blksize and blocks. #854937

strip-nondeterminism 0.031-1~bpo8+1 was uploaded to jessie-backports by Mattia.
  • Vagrant Cascadian and Holger Levsen set up two new armhf nodes, p64b and p64c running on pine64 boards with an arm64 kernel and armhf userland. This introduces kernel variations to armhf. New setup & maintenance jobs were set up too, plus 6 new builder jobs for armhf.

This week's edition was written by Ximin Luo & reviewed by a bunch of Reproducible Builds folks on IRC & the mailing lists.

Jonathan Dowland: Blinkstick and Doom

21 February, 2017 - 16:20

I recently implemented VGA "porch" flashing support in Chocolate Doom.

Since I'd spent some time playing with a blinkstick on my NAS, I couldn't resist trying it out with Chocolate Doom too. The result:

Arturo Borrero González: About process limits, round 2

21 February, 2017 - 15:00

I was wrong. After the other blog post About process limits, some people contacted me with additional data and information. I myself continued to investigate on the issue, so I have new facts.

I read again the source code of the slapd daemon and the picture seems clearer now.

A new message appeared in the log files:

Feb 20 06:26:03 slapd[18506]: daemon: 1025 beyond descriptor table size 1024
Feb 20 06:26:03 slapd[18506]: daemon: 1025 beyond descriptor table size 1024
Feb 20 06:26:03 slapd[18506]: daemon: 1025 beyond descriptor table size 1024
Feb 20 06:26:03 slapd[18506]: daemon: 1025 beyond descriptor table size 1024
Feb 20 06:26:03 slapd[18506]: daemon: 1025 beyond descriptor table size 1024

This message is clearly produced by the daemon itself, and searching for the string leads to this source code, in servers/slapd/daemon.c:

sfd = SLAP_SOCKNEW( s );

/* make sure descriptor number isn't too great */
if ( sfd >= dtblsize ) {
		"daemon: %ld beyond descriptor table size %ld\n",
		(long) sfd, (long) dtblsize, 0 );

	return 0;

In that same file, dtblsize is set to:

        dtblsize = sysconf( _SC_OPEN_MAX );
        dtblsize = getdtablesize();
        dtblsize = FD_SETSIZE;

If you keep pulling the string, the first two options use system limits to know the value, getrlimit(), and the last one uses a fixed value of 4096 (set at build time).

It turns out that this routine slapd_daemon_init() is called once, at daemon startup (see main() function at servers/slapd/main.c). So the daemon is limiting itself to the limit imposed by the system at daemon startup time.

That means that our previous limits settings at runtime was not being read by the slapd daemon.

Let’s back to the previous approach of establishing the process limits by setting them on the user. The common method is to call ulimit in the init.d script (or systemd service file). One of my concerns of this approach was that slapd runs as a different user, usually openldap.

Again, reading the source code:

if( check == CHECK_NONE && slapd_daemon_init( urls ) != 0 ) {
	rc = 1;
        goto stop;

#if defined(HAVE_CHROOT)
	if ( sandbox ) {
		if ( chdir( sandbox ) ) {
			rc = 1;
			goto stop;
		if ( chroot( sandbox ) ) {
			rc = 1;
			goto stop;

#if defined(HAVE_SETUID) && defined(HAVE_SETGID)
	if ( username != NULL || groupname != NULL ) {
		slap_init_user( username, groupname );

So, the slapd daemon first reads the limits and then change user to openldap, (the slap_init_user() function).

We can then asume that if we set the limits to the root user, calling ulimit in the init.d script, the slapd daemon will actually inherint them.

This is what is originally suggested in debian bug #660917. Let’s use this solution for now.

Many thanks to John Hughes for the clarifications via email.

Petter Reinholdtsen: Detect OOXML files with undefined behaviour?

21 February, 2017 - 06:20

I just noticed the new Norwegian proposal for archiving rules in the goverment list ECMA-376 / ISO/IEC 29500 (aka OOXML) as valid formats to put in long term storage. Luckily such files will only be accepted based on pre-approval from the National Archive. Allowing OOXML files to be used for long term storage might seem like a good idea as long as we forget that there are plenty of ways for a "valid" OOXML document to have content with no defined interpretation in the standard, which lead to a question and an idea.

Is there any tool to detect if a OOXML document depend on such undefined behaviour? It would be useful for the National Archive (and anyone else interested in verifying that a document is well defined) to have such tool available when considering to approve the use of OOXML. I'm aware of the officeotron OOXML validator, but do not know how complete it is nor if it will report use of undefined behaviour. Are there other similar tools available? Please send me an email if you know of any such tool.

Ritesh Raj Sarraf: Setting up appliances - the new way

21 February, 2017 - 01:39

I own a Fitbit Surge. But Fitibit chose to remain exclusive in terms of interoperability. Which means to make any sense out of the data that the watch gathers, you need to stick with what Fitbit mandates. Fair enough in today's trends. It also is part of their business model to restrict useful aspects of the report to Premium Membership.  Again, fair enough in today's business' trends.

But a nice human chose to write a bridge; to extract Fitbit data and feed into Google Fit. The project is written in Python, so you can get it to work on most common computer platforms. I never bothered to package this tool for Debian, because I never was sure when I'd throw away the Fitbit. But until that happens, I decided to use the tool to sync my data to Google Fit. Which led me to requirements.txt

This project's requirement.txt lists versioned module dependencies, of which many modules in Debian, were either older or newer than what was mentioned in the requirements. To get the tool working, I installed it the pip way. 3 months later, something broke and I needed to revisit the installed modules. At that point, I realized that there's no such thing as: pip upgrade

That further led me to dig on why anyone wouldn't add something so simple, because today, in the days of pip, snap, flatpak and dockers, Distributions are predicted to go obsolete and irrelevant. Users should get the SOURCES directly from the developers. But just looking at the date the bug was filed, killed my enthusiasm any further.

So, without packaging for Debian, and without installing through pip, I was happy that my init has the ability to create confined and containerized environments, something that I could use to get the job done.


rrs@chutzpah:~$ sudo machinectl login fitbit
[sudo] password for rrs:
Connected to machine fitbit. Press ^] three times within 1s to exit session.

Debian GNU/Linux 9 fitbit pts/0

fitbit login: root
Last login: Fri Feb 17 12:44:25 IST 2017 on pts/1

The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
root@fitbit:~# tail -n 25 /var/tmp/lxc/fitbit-google.log
synced calories - 1440 data points

------------------------------   2017-02-19  -------------------------
synced steps - 1440 data points
synced distance - 1440 data points
synced heart_rate - 38215 data points
synced weight - 0 logs
synced body_fat - 0 logs
synced calories - 1440 data points

------------------------------   2017-02-20  -------------------------
synced steps - 1270 data points
synced distance - 1270 data points
synced heart_rate - 32547 data points
synced weight - 0 logs
synced body_fat - 0 logs
synced calories - 1271 data points

Synced 7 exercises between : 2017-02-15 -- 2017-02-20

                                     Like it ?
star the repository :



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Holger Levsen: How to use .ics files like it's 1997

21 February, 2017 - 00:46
$ sudo apt install khal
Unpacking khal (0.8.4-3) ...
$ (echo 1;echo 0;echo y;echo 0; echo y; echo n; echo y; echo y)  | khal configure
Do you want to write the config to /home/user/.config/khal/khal.conf? (Choosing `No` will abort) [y/N]: Successfully wrote configuration to /home/user/.config/khal/khal.conf
$ wget
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 6120 (6.0K) [text/plain]
Saving to: ‘until-dc17.ics’
$ khal import --batch -a private until-dc17.ics
$ khal agenda --days 14
16:30-17:30: DebConf Weekly Meeting ⟳

16:30-17:30: DebConf Weekly Meeting ⟳

khal is available in stretch and newer and is probably best run from cron piping into '/usr/bin/mail' Thanks to Gunnar Wolf for figuring it all out.

Jonathan Dowland: Blinkenlights, part 3

20 February, 2017 - 23:31

red blinkenlights!

Part three of a series. part 1, part 2.

One morning last week I woke up to find the LED on my NAS a solid red. I've never been happier to have something fail.

I'd set up my backup jobs to fire off a systemd unit on failure


This is a generator-service, which is used to fire off an email to me when something goes wrong. I followed these instructions on the Arch wiki to set it up). Once I got the blinkstick, I added an additional command to that service to light up the LED:

ExecStart=-/usr/local/bin/blinkstick --index 1 --limit 50 --set-color red

The actual failure was a simple thing to fix. But I never did get the email.

On further investigation, there are problems with using exim and systemd in Debian at the moment: it's possible for the exim4 daemon to exit and for systemd not to know that this is a failure, thus, the mail spool never gets processed. This should probably be fixed by the exim4 package providing a proper systemd service unit.

Russ Allbery: Haul via parents

20 February, 2017 - 09:39

My parents were cleaning out a bunch of books they didn't want, so I grabbed some of the ones that looked interesting. A rather wide variety of random stuff. Also, a few more snap purchases on the Kindle even though I've not been actually finishing books recently. (I do have two finished and waiting for me to write reviews, at least.) Who knows when, if ever, I'll read these.

Mark Ames — Going Postal (nonfiction)
Catherine Asaro — The Misted Cliffs (sff)
Ambrose Bierce — The Complete Short Stores of Ambrose Bierce (collection)
E. William Brown — Perilous Waif (sff)
Joseph Campbell — A Hero with a Thousand Faces (nonfiction)
Jacqueline Carey — Miranda and Caliban (sff)
Noam Chomsky — 9-11 (nonfiction)
Noam Chomsky — The Common Good (nonfiction)
Robert X. Cringely — Accidental Empires (nonfiction)
Neil Gaiman — American Gods (sff)
Neil Gaiman — Norse Mythology (sff)
Stephen Gillet — World Building (nonfiction)
Donald Harstad — Eleven Days (mystery)
Donald Harstad — Known Dead (mystery)
Donald Harstad — The Big Thaw (mystery)
James Hilton — Lost Horizon (mainstream)
Spencer Johnson — The Precious Present (nonfiction)
Michael Lerner — The Politics of Meaning (nonfiction)
C.S. Lewis — The Joyful Christian (nonfiction)
Grigori Medredev — The Truth about Chernobyl (nonfiction)
Tom Nadeu — Seven Lean Years (nonfiction)
Barak Obama — The Audacity of Hope (nonfiction)
Ed Regis — Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition (nonfiction)
Fred Saberhagen — Berserker: Blue Death (sff)
Al Sarrantonio (ed.) — Redshift (sff anthology)
John Scalzi — Fuzzy Nation (sff)
John Scalzi — The End of All Things (sff)
Kristine Smith — Rules of Conflict (sff)
Henry David Thoreau — Civil Disobedience and Other Essays (nonfiction)
Alan W. Watts — The Book (nonfiction)
Peter Whybrow — A Mood Apart (nonfiction)

I've already read (and reviewed) American Gods, but didn't own a copy of it, and that seemed like a good book to have a copy of.

The Carey and Brown were snap purchases, and I picked up a couple more Scalzi books in a recent sale.

Norbert Preining: Ryu Murakami – Tokyo Decadence

20 February, 2017 - 09:08

The other Murakami, Ryu Murakami (村上 龍), is hard to compare to the more famous Haruki. His collection of stories reflects the dark sides of Tokyo, far removed from the happy world of AKB48 and the like. Criminals, prostitutes, depression, loss. A bleak image onto a bleak society.

This collection of short stories is a consequent deconstruction of happiness, love, everything we believe to make our lives worthwhile. The protagonists are idealistic students loosing their faith, office ladies on aberrations, drunkards, movie directors, the usual mixture. But the topic remains constant – the unfulfilled search for happiness and love.

I felt I was beginning to understand what happiness is about. It isn’t about guzzling ten or twenty energy drinks a day, barreling down the highway for hours at a time, turning over your paycheck to your wife without even opening the envelope, and trying to force your family to respect you. Happiness is based on secrets and lies.Ryu Murakami, It all started just about a year and a half ago

A deep pessimistic undertone is echoing through these stories, and the atmosphere and writing reminds of Charles Bukowski. This pessimism resonates in the melancholy of the running themes in the stories, Cuban music. Murakami was active in disseminating Cuban music in Japan, which included founding his own label. Javier Olmo’s pieces are often the connecting parts, as well as lending the short stories their title: Historia de un amor, Se fué.

The belief – that what’s missing now used to be available to us – is just an illusion, if you ask me. But the social pressure of “You’ve got everything you need, what’s your problem?” is more powerful than you might ever think, and it’s hard to defend yourself against it. In this country it’s taboo even to think about looking for something more in life.Ryu Murakami, Historia de un amor

It is interesting to see that on the surface, the women in the stories are the broken characters, leading feminists to incredible rants about the book, see the rant^Wreview of Blake Fraina at Goodreads:

I’ll start by saying that, as a feminist, I’m deeply suspicious of male writers who obsess over the sex lives of women and, further, have the audacity to write from a female viewpoint…
…female characters are pretty much all pathetic victims of the male characters…
I wish there was absolutely no market for stuff like this and I particularly discourage women readers from buying it…Blake Fraina, Goodreads review

On first sight it might look like that the female characters are pretty much all pathetic victims of the male characters, but in fact it is the other way round, the desperate characters, the slaves of their own desperation, are the men, and not the women, in these stories. It is dual to the situation in Hitomi Kanehara’s Snakes and Earrings, where on first sight the tattooist and the outlaw friends are the broken characters, but the really cracked one is the sweet Tokyo girly.

Male-female relationships are always in transition. If there’s no forward progress, things tend to slip backwards.Ryu Murakami, Se fué

Final verdict: Great reading, hard to put down, very much readable and enjoyable, if one is in the mood of dark and depressing stories. And last but not least, don’t trust feminist book reviews.

Gregor Herrmann: RC bugs 2016/52-2017/07

20 February, 2017 - 05:19

debian is in deep freeze for the upcoming stretch release. still, I haven't dived into fixing "general" release-critical bugs yet; so far I mostly kept to working on bugs in the debian perl group:

  • #834912 – src:libfile-tee-perl: "libfile-tee-perl: FTBFS randomly (Failed 1/2 test programs)"
    add patch from ntyni (pkg-perl)
  • #845167 – src:lemonldap-ng: "lemonldap-ng: FTBFS randomly (failing tests)"
    upload package prepared by xavier with disabled tests (pkg-perl)
  • #849362 – libstring-diff-perl: "libstring-diff-perl: FTBFS: test failures with new libyaml-perl"
    add patch from ntyni (pkg-perl)
  • #851033 – src:jabref: "jabref: FTBFS: Could not find org.postgresql:postgresql:9.4.1210."
    update maven.rules
  • #851347 – libjson-validator-perl: "libjson-validator-perl: uses deprecated Mojo::Util::slurp, makes libswagger2-perl FTBFS"
    upload new upstream release (pkg-perl)
  • #852853 – src:libwww-curl-perl: "libwww-curl-perl: FTBFS (Cannot find curl.h)"
    add patch for multiarch curl (pkg-perl)
  • #852879 – src:license-reconcile: "license-reconcile: FTBFS: dh_auto_test: perl Build test --verbose 1 returned exit code 255"
    update tests (pkg-perl)
  • #852889 – src:liblatex-driver-perl: "liblatex-driver-perl: FTBFS: Test failures"
    add missing build dependency (pkg-perl)
  • #854859 – lemonldap-ng-doc: "lemonldap-ng-doc: unhandled symlink to directory conversion: /usr/share/doc/lemonldap-ng-doc/pages/documentation/current"
    help with dpkg-maintscript-helper, upload on xavier's behalf (pkg-perl)

thanks to the release team for pro-actively unblocking the packages with fixes which were uploaded after the begin of the freeze!

Steve Kemp: Apologies for the blog-churn.

19 February, 2017 - 05:00

I've been tweaking my blog a little over the past few days, getting ready for a new release of the chronicle blog compiler (github).

During the course of that I rewrote all the posts to have 100% lower-case file-paths. Redirection-pages have been auto-generated for each page which was previously mixed-case, but unfortunately that will have meant that the RSS feed updated unnecessarily:

  • If it used to contain:
  • It would have been updated to contain

That triggered a lot of spamming, as the URLs would have shown up as being new/unread/distinct.

Dirk Eddelbuettel: RPushbullet 0.3.1

18 February, 2017 - 09:17

A new release 0.3.1 of the RPushbullet package, following the recent 0.3.0 release is now on CRAN. RPushbullet is interfacing the neat Pushbullet service for inter-device messaging, communication, and more. It lets you easily send alerts like the one to the to your browser, phone, tablet, ... -- or all at once.

This release owes once again a lot to Seth Wenchel who helped to update and extend a number of features. We fixed one more small bug stemming from the RJSONIO to jsonlite transition, and added a few more helpers. We also enabled Travis testing and with it covr-based coverage analysis using pretty much the same setup I described in this recent blog post.

Changes in version 0.3.1 (2017-02-17)
  • The target device designation was corrected (#39).

  • Three new (unexported) helper functions test the validity of the api key, device and channel (Seth in #41).

  • The summary method for the pbDevices class was corrected (Seth in #43).

  • New helper functions pbValidateConf, pbGetUser, pbGetChannelInfo were added (Seth in #44 closing #40).

  • New classes pbUser and pbChannelInfo were added (Seth in #44).

  • Travis CI tests (and covr coverage analysis) are now enabled via an encrypted config file (#45).

Courtesy of CRANberries, there is also a diffstat report for this release.

More details about the package are at the RPushbullet webpage and the RPushbullet GitHub repo.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Ingo Juergensmann: Migrating from Owncloud 7 on Debian to Nextcloud 11

18 February, 2017 - 06:19

These days I got a mail by my hosting provider stating that my Owncloud instance is unsecure, because the online scan from mailed them. However the scan seemed quite bogus: it reported some issues that were listed as already solved in Debians changelog file. But unfortunately the last entry in changelog was on January 5th, 2016. So, there has been more than a whole year without security updates for Owncloud in Debian stable.

In an discussion with the Nextcloud team I complained a little bit that the scan/check is not appropriate. The Nextcloud team replied very helpful with additional information, such as two bug reports in Debian to clarify that the Owncloud package will most likely be removed in the next release: #816376 and #822681.

So, as there is no nextcloud package in Debian unstable as of now, there was no other way to manually upgrade & migrate to Nextcloud. This went fairly well:

ownCloud 7 -> ownCloud 8.0 -> ownCloud 8.1 -> ownCloud 8.2 -> ownCloud 9.0 -> ownCloud 9.1 -> Nextcloud 10 -> Nextcloud 11

There were some smaller caveats:

  1. When migrating from OC 9.0 to OC 9.1 you need to migrate your addressbooks and calendars as described in the OC 9.0 Release Notes
  2. When migrating from OC 9.1 to Nextcloud 10, the OC 9.1 is higher than expected by the Mextcloud upgrade script, so it warns about that you can't downgrade your installation. The fix was simply to change the OC version in the config.php
  3. The Documents App of OC 7 is no longer available in Nextcloud 11 and is replaced by Collabora App, which is way more complex to setup

The installation and setup of the Docker image for collabora/code was the main issue, because I wanted to be able to edit documents in my cloud. For some reason Nextcloud couldn't connect to my docker installation. After some web searches I found "Can't connect to Collabora Online" which led me to the next entry in the Nextcloud support forum. But in the end it was this posting that finally made it work for me. So, in short I needed to add...


to /etc/default/docker.

So, in the end everything worked out well and my cloud instance is secure again. :-)

Kategorie: DebianTags: DebianSoftwareCloudServer 

Michal Čihař: What's coming in Weblate 2.12

17 February, 2017 - 18:00

Weblate should be released by end of February, so it's now pretty much clear what will be there. So let's look at some of the upcoming features.

There were many improvements in search related features. They got performance improvements (this is especially noticeable on site wide search). Additionally you can search for strings within translation project. On related topic, search and replace is now available for component or project wide operations, what can help you in case of massive renaming in your translations.

We have worked on improving machine translations as well, this time we've added support for Yandex. In case you know some machine translation service which we do not yet support, please submit that to our issue tracker.

Biggest improvement so far comes for visual context feature - it allows you to upload screenshots which are later shown to translators to give them better idea where and in which context the translation is used. So far you had to manually upload screenshot for every source string, what was far from being easy to use. With Weblate 2.12 (and this is already available on Hosted Weblate right now) the screenshots management got way better.

There is now separate interface to manage screenshots (see screenshots for Weblate as an example), you can assign every screenshot to multiple source strings, however you can also let Weblate automatically recognize texts on the screenshots using OCR and suggest strings to assign. This can save you quite a lot of effort, especially with screenshots with lot of strings. This feature is still in early phase, so the suggestions are not always 100% matching, but we're working to improve it further.

There will be some more features as well, you can look at our 2.12 milestone at GitHub to follow the process.

Filed under: Debian English SUSE Weblate | 1 comments

Joey Hess: Presenting at LibrePlanet 2017

17 February, 2017 - 10:56

I've gotten in the habit of going to the FSF's LibrePlanet conference in Boston. It's a very special conference, much wider ranging than a typical technology conference, solidly grounded in software freedom, and full of extraordinary people. (And the only conference I've ever taken my Mom to!)

After attending for four years, I finally thought it was time to perhaps speak at it.

Four keynote speakers will anchor the event. Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty program of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, will kick things off on Saturday morning by sharing how technologists can enlist in the growing fight for civil liberties. On Saturday night, Free Software Foundation president Richard Stallman will present the  Free Software Awards and discuss pressing threats and important opportunities for software freedom.

Day two will begin with Cory Doctorow, science fiction author and special consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, revealing how to eradicate all Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) in a decade. The conference will draw to a close with Sumana Harihareswara, leader, speaker, and advocate for free software and communities, giving a talk entitled "Lessons, Myths, and Lenses: What I Wish I'd Known in 1998."

That's not all. We'll hear about the GNU philosophy from Marianne Corvellec of the French free software organization April, Joey Hess will touch on encryption with a talk about backing up your GPG keys, and Denver Gingerich will update us on a crucial free software need: the mobile phone.

Others will look at ways to grow the free software movement: through cross-pollination with other activist movements, removal of barriers to free software use and contribution, and new ideas for free software as paid work.

-- Here's a sneak peek at LibrePlanet 2017: Register today!

I'll be giving some varient of the keysafe talk from Linux.Conf.Au. By the way, videos of my keysafe and propellor talks at Linux.Conf.Au are now available, see the talks page.


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