BREAKING: Terrifying police scope–creep spam!

Hey, I could work at Buzzfeed. Today's fun spam message comes from the Australian Federal Police, some of whom are pictured below.

You could have been recently released having a driving infringement:

Cause: inattentive driving a car
infringement N: 579356441165
Time frame regarding issue: 07/04/2015
Sum due: $122.32 AUD
Due date: 07/05/2015

At this stage, the alarm bells are already going off. And not the kind that indicate an intrusion into a building, or someone tripping and touching your car while the rest of us are trying to sleep at 3am. Yeah, neighbour with the cliché Commodore ute down the street, we're talking about you.

To see more details you should look at your current encroachment information. notice your driving violation Payment must be made within 10 day time in the time frame involving support of the infraction info or your reminder info. You may sign up for the extendable to pay the actual violation info charges, or contest this the liability, within just twenty-eight days.

It is self produced message, you are free to delist from mailinglist.

Leave aside the unsurprisingly–bad grammar, punctuation, capitalisation, and likely use of American dates. Ignore the fact I don't even drive, or own, a car. Minor details in the grand scheme of things, really.

Nagato Yuki and Suzumiya Haruhi as police officers

What's abundantly clear is not only are the Australian Federal Police transmitting infringement notices in unencrypted electronic letters, but that they've subsumed the state police and its responsibilities. This is a clear and present threat to the sovereignty of the grand state of New South Wales, headed by a Governer representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in some far–off island.

And to think Texans were scared!

I've been informed the above pictured officers are, in fact, members of the SOS Brigade (© 2006 Kyoto Animation), and are not, in fact, Australian Federal Police officers. Phooey, in fact.


CentOS 7 symlinking ALL the bins

I got quite the surprise on CentOS 7 today. While attempting to move a file (let's call it file x), I got the strangest error.

$ mv /sbin/x /usr/sbin/x
==> mv: cannot move ‘x/’ to a subdirectory of itself.

Wait, what? Did I type that right?

Not to get all Malcolm Gladwell on you (again), but turns out, CentOS 7 introdues this file system structure.

$ ls -l /
==> bin -> usr/bin
==> lib -> usr/lib
==> lib64 -> usr/lib64
==> sbin -> usr/bin

That's right, /{s}bin and /lib{64} are symlinked to their respective /usr.

Huh!

As a BSD user first (here we go), it took me this long to feel okay having Linux mix userland and system utitilies. Now, we're further collapsing these directories into one place. I'd be interested to hear their justification; on the surface it seems short sighted.

By comparison, BSD documents clear separations between these. FreeBSD's hier(7) manpage defines them as:

/bin: user utilities fundamental to both single-user and multi-user environments

/usr/bin: common utilities, programming tools, and applications

/usr/local: local executables, libraries, etc. Also used as the default destination for the FreeBSD ports framework.

Granted, the distinction between system and package manager maintained assets is moot on Linux distros, as they're all updated from apt-get, yum and so on. Whether this is a good idea or not is beyond the scope of this post.

But still, it's interesting these distinctions are no longer deemed relevent to CentOS (or perhaps Prominent North American Enterprise Linux vendor Red Hat). Mixing bash with your gcc? Sure, you're tangling all your stuff with systemd anyway.


When git fatal pathspec's you

I've been trying to do more things the git way. Lately, I've been using git to perform file actions directly, rather than from the shell first then updating git's state. For example, using git rm will stop tracking a file, remove it from the repo and delete it locally:

$ git rm content/post/fate-stay-night.html

I'll admit, I'm still a little uncomfortable giving a tool this much power. But I balance this with the idea that I'm manipulating git's state to affect files rather than the reverse, which may be more resilient?

It did highlight a specific PEBKAC issue though:

git rm content/post/fate-stay-night.html
==> fatal: pathspec 'content/post/fate-stay-night.html' [..]

The file did exist, but I hadn't started tracking it. By removing the file normally, git was never made aware of its existance.

As an aside, I used to feel embarassed posting rudumentary discoveries like this, for fear trolls would laugh at me. Now, I don't give a shit. It's quite liberating :).


Terminal emoji

I never thought I'd see it, but we have real graphics in our terminals. Granted, they're fonts with emoji the OS may render as an image, but the point stands.

The Homebrew team include their namesake beverage in output. Some bash burgers. Personally, I've started adding hot unicode beverages to script output, which OS X renders as a lovely emoji cup of coffee:

☕   Fluxing capacitors...
[STDOUT...]
☕   Building dependencies...
[STDOUT...]
☕   Grading zettai ryouiki...
[STDOUT...]
☕   Changes now LIVE. Have a nice day

These visual markers really stand out in a sea of output. I've yet to push them into prod for anything other than personal deployments though; I don't think the world is ready for that.


Reading off smartphones is rote learning

Clara and I were struck [update: last week] by this Sydney Morning Herald article on high school exam cheats:

Among the 75,000 teenagers who took the final year exam last year was a student who wired herself up through an earpiece and a microphone in her sleeve to get answers from a friend outside the exam room, while another tried to convince an examiner that reading off their smartphone in the middle of the exam was "rote learning".

My favourite quote:

BOSTES president Tom Alegounarias: "It is more stress working out a way to cheat than focusing on best result you can get."

Clearly not, given the extrodinary lengths students are prepared to do this. It reminds me of the CityRail worker who sadly admitted suicides increase sharply after exam results are published. The pressure some of these kids are under is absurd.

My submitted response, which we both discussed:

It's almost as though exams are an antiquated and ineffective way of testing knowledge. As tech advances, and as long as these arbitrary memory regurgitations are required, expect cheaters to employ more sophisticated ways to cheat. It's like an arms race.

(I speak as someone who's never cheated, to preempt any suggestion otherwise!)

Originally written on the 8th of May, but forgot to publish.


Eye on Springfield

Kent Brockman and his sandwich filling

Copyright © 20th Century Fox. There were still gems even into season 14 if you knew where to look!


Empty plist input with Homebrew Cask

I'd been having this issue whenever installing casks:

$ brew cask install macvim

==> This subcommand requires root privileges: bsexec
Error: Empty plist input

This was a known bug, and has been addressed with a newer version.

$ brew update
$ brew upgrade caskroom/cask/brew-cask

Be prepared for this to take a while.

==> Checking out tag v0.54.0
[..] 10M, built in 7.0 minutes

I've had mixed to positive success with Homebrew Cask, but it’s just useful enough to keep it around for installing Mac applications. XQuartz, Tunnelblick and a few others are still tricky, as they require admin access or wizard installs.


Australia's surveillance tax is on

Below is an exerpt from George Fong on the AusNog mailing lists:

In terms of timelines, keep in mind that if you are subject to the data retention legislation, then your DR Implementation Plan (DRIP) is due in by 13th August and the requirement to hold and retain metadata starts on 13th October unless you have successfully applied for an exemption or extension of time. Not a lot of time!

DRIP. I love it.

Time to get your VPNs, proxies and remote jump boxes set up to bypass this farcial law. The 13th of October will come faster than you think.


Git shortcut for moving tracked resources

Yes, I didn't know this until today, much like there's someone born every minute who hasn't seen The Flintstones. Previously to move a file, I would have done this:

$ mv ./original ./new
$ git rm ./original
$ git add ./new
$ git commit -m 'moved original to new'

As an aside, you can also do git rm to remove the file and tracking, or use -f to just do the latter. I'm old fashioned, and prefer my source control just track stuff, rather than manipulating stuff directly. Stuff being the operative word. But I digress.

Not to get all Malcolm Gladwell on you (and stuff), but turns out, there's a mv command instead:

$ git mv ./original ./new
$ git commit -m 'moved original to new'

This way, the files are also associated, and stuff.


John Oliver in Sydney

John Oliver Live

UPDATE: General admission tickets opened, and we got some! Standing only, but we'll take them. Boom!

Yesterday evening, the Sydney Morning Herald ran this:

Desperate fans fork out for tickets

They could have only been talking about John Oliver’s Australia tour. How Clara and I kept refreshing that Ticketmaster page, in vain attempts to secure seats to see The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight star perform in Sydney. We'd even put thought into getting some Jeff the Diseased Lung shirts made to wear on the night.

Alas, despite spending more time and effort into pre–ordering this experience than some throwaway electronic device (that people keep asking me whether I've got or not), the tickets were not to be.

But back to the article.

The A-League grand final is being held at its smallest venue yet. Scalpers are cashing in.

Oh, that’s what it was discussing? Let's pretend it was regarding Mr Oliver. It’ll make coping easier.