The web we lost: a retrospective

Anil Dash wrote a list of things we lost on the web back in 2012. Every one of his points have only accelerated during this time.

I badly miss Technorati, I was so excited when I got a profile on it for my sites back in 2005. Anil writes:

… Technorati let you search most of the social web in real-time (though the search tended to be awful slow in presenting results), with tags that worked as hashtags do on Twitter today. You could find the sites that had linked to your content with a simple search, and find out who was talking about a topic regardless of what tools or platforms they were using to publish their thoughts.

But point six is what I miss the most, emphasis added:

In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites, instead of being dependent on a few big sites to host their online identity. In this vision, you would own your own domain name and have complete control over its contents, rather than having a handle tacked on to the end of a huge company’s site. This was a sensible reaction to the realization that big sites rise and fall in popularity, but that regular people need an identity that persists longer than those sites do.

I write a lot about this. I’m thinking I should start doing something about it.


My humble homelab, with awful ASCII diagrams

The Homelab session is the I’m most looking forward to! So many of our careers began as a passionate hobby at home, so I think encouraging more of this sort of thing can only help the BSD community. You can join the live stream free; details are on the BSDCan website. These are the times:

  • 10:15, 05 June Ottawa
  • 14:15, 05 June UTC
  • 22:15, 05 June Singapore
  • 00:15, 06 June Sydney

I thought it’d be a fun evening exercise to make a terrible ASCII-art diagram showing Clara’s and my own homelab. I had to unfortunately shed and consolidate a lot of stuff when we moved into our current studio apartment, but fortunately Clara’s just as much a nerd as me and is fine having the shelf behind our TV full of wires and loud cooling fans!

   ╔═════════════════════════╗    ~ Cloud ~
   ║             sasara.moe  ║
   ║  OrionVM High CPU 2 GB  ║   ╔═════════════════════════╗
   ║         FreeBSD 11.4-R  ║   ║           rubenerd.com  ║
   ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢   ║  OrionVM Standard 4 GB  ║          
┌──╢  tun0      10.5.5.x/24  ║   ║         FreeBSD 12.1-R  ║
│  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢   ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
│  ║  xn0         Public IP  ║   ║  xn0      (unused ATM)  ║
│  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢   ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
│  ║  xn1       10.4.4.x/24  ╟───╢  xn1       10.4.4.x/24  ║
│  ╚═════════════════════════╝   ╚═════════════════════════╝
│ 
│ 
│ 
│← OPENVPN TUNNEL
│← Probably superfluous for what I use it for, but hey
│ 
│ 
│ 
│    ╔════════════════════════╗
│    ║               mio.lan  ║     ~ Apartment living area ~  
│    ║  HPE MicroServer Gen8  ║
│    ║        FreeBSD 12.1-S  ║     ╔════════════════════════╗
│    ║   FBSD, Debian guests  ║     ║              aino.lan  ║
│    ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢     ║  HPE MicroServer Gen8  ║
└────╢  tun0     10.5.5.x/24  ║     ║            NetBSD 9.0  ║
     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
     ║  ib1     (unused ATM)  ╟─────╢  ib1     (unused ATM)  ║
     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
     ║  ib0     (unused ATM)  ╟─────╢  ib0     (unused ATM)  ║
     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
     ║  bge1     10.7.7.x/30  ╟─────╢  bge1     10.7.7.x/30  ║
     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
  ┌──╢  bge0     10.8.8.x/24  ║  ┌──╢  bge0     10.8.8.x/24  ║
  │  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢  │  ╚════════════════════════╝
  │  ║  bridge0  10.6.6.x/24  ║  │
  │  ╚════════════════════════╝  │  ╔═════════════════════╗
  │                              │  ║         himeko.lan  ║
  │  ╔══════════════════════╗    │  ║      Apple TV Gen3  ║
  └──╢   Unmanaged Netgear  ╟────┘  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
┌────╢  10-port GbE Switch  ╟───────╢  eth0  10.8.8.x/24  ║
│ ┌──╢         10.8.8.x/24  ╟──┐    ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
│ │  ╚══════════════════════╝  │    ║  wlan0    (unused)  ║
│ │                            │    ╚═════════════════════╝
│ │  ╔══════════════════════╗  │
│ │  ║      Linksys Router  ║  │  ╔════════════════════════╗
│ │  ║             OpenWRT  ║  │  ║           azunyan.lan  ║
│ │  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢  │  ║       Raspberry Pi A+  ║
│ └──╢  lan    10.8.8.x/24  ║  │  ║        FreeBSD 12.1-R  ║
│    ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢  │  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢  
│    ║  wan      IPoE DHCP  ║  └──╢  ue0      10.8.8.x/24  ║
│    ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
│    ║  wlan0     (unused)  ║     ║  wlan0  (unsupported)  ║
│    ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
│ ┌┈┈╢  wlan1  10.9.9.x/24  ║     ║  sio0        (serial)  ╟───┐
│ ┊  ╚══════════════════════╝     ╚════════════════════════╝   │
│ ┊                                                            │
│ ┊  ╔════════════════════════════╗   ╔═════════════════════╗  │
│ ┊  ║                   lum.lan  ║   ║              ritsu  ║  │
│ ┊  ║  Panasonic Let's Note RZ6  ║   ║  Commodore 128 PAL  ║  │
│ ┊  ║            FreeBSD 12.1-R  ║   ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢  │
│ ┊  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢   ║       Serial, WIP!  ╟──┘
│ ┊  ║  en0     (unused at home)  ║   ╚═════════════════════╝
│ ┊  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
│ ├┈┈╢  wlan0        10.9.9.x/24  ║
│ ┊  ╚════════════════════════════╝     
│ ┊
│ └┈┈┈┈ Phones, Kindles, etc...
│
│
│
│← TRANS-APARTMENT PIPELINE OF JOYOUS CONNECTIVITY
│← May be hidden under a carpet, cough
│
│
│
│    ╔════════════════════╗        
│    ║       tsuruya.lan  ║
│    ║      DIY PC tower  ║
│    ║    FreeBSD 13.0-C  ║
│    ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢        ~ Home office nook ~
│ ┌──╢  en0  10.8.8.x/24  ║
│ │  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢      ╔═════════════════════╗
│ │  ║  en1            -  ║      ║    mactheknife.lan  ║
│ │  ╚════════════════════╝      ║   MacBook Pro 14,2  ║
│ │                              ║        macOS 10.14  ║
│ │  ╔═════════════════════╗     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
│ └──╢   Unmanaged D-Link  ╟─────╢  eth0  10.8.8.x/24  ║
└────╢  5-port GbE Switch  ╟──┐  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
 ┌───╢        10.8.8.x/24  ║  │  ║  wlan0           -  ║
 │   ╚═════════════════════╝  │  ╚═════════════════════╝
 │                            │
 │  ╔══════════════════════╗  │  ╔═════════════════════╗
 │  ║             ami.lan  ║  │  ║      clarabook.lan  ║
 │  ║  DIY 200MHz Pentium  ║  │  ║   MacBook Pro 14,3  ║
 │  ║    MS-DOS 6.20, WFW  ║  │  ║        macOS 10.15  ║
 │  ║     Windows 95 OSR2  ║  │  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
 │  ║    FreeBSD 6.3 i386  ║  └──╢  eth0  10.8.8.x/24  ║
 │  ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢     ╟┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈┈╢
 └──╢  eth0   10.8.8.x/24  ║     ║  wlan0           -  ║
    ╚══════════════════════╝     ╚═════════════════════╝

A couple of notes:

  • We use InfiniBand extensively at work for synchronous disk replication, and I have some older Mellanox QDR cards in both the MicroServers, but I recently switched one of them to NetBSD as an experiment and don’t have experience with IB or running NetworkManager on that OS yet.

  • My SSH to rs232 bridge for either my Commodore 128 or Commodore Plus/4 is only theoretical at this stage, but I’d love to see if it’s possible!

  • At some point I want to upgrade to 2.5/5GBASE-T for machines that can support it, but it will involve new switches and NICs that are still too pricey. Good news is everything was done with Cat6 when we moved into this tiny apartment :)

  • The mio MicroServer was recently switched to being a bhyve host instead of just jails, which I haven’t figured out how to represent with awful(ly delightful) box-drawing characters. My cloud VMs also run jails. Now that aino runs NetBSD, I’d be interested to see if I could make her a Xen host, given that’s our bread and butter at work.

  • I want to replace the aging home router at some stage.


The 2020 iPhone SE

This post was written back in April, during a week when I messed up my post-update hooks again. I’ll be slowly posting these vanished posts over the next couple of weeks to reduce spammage.

I haven’t been this keen for an Apple phone announcement in years. The 2020 iPhone SE looks good, in large part for all the thing it doesn’t have:

  • It doesn’t have an OLED screen, which is important to a minority like me for whom they cause eyestrain and headaches.

  • To paraphrase Johnny Ive discussing the lampshade iMacs design affordances, its screen is still allowed to be a screen, with plain corners and no inclusions.

  • It’s not intentionally-hobbled with a cheaper CPU; it uses the same silicon as the latest iPhone 11. In other words, the best mobile CPU in the industry.

  • It still uses TouchID in lieu of FaceID, so you can unlock the phone while pulling it out of your pocket, and wearing a hat that casts a shadow on your face.

  • It didn’t adopt the larger, heavier form factor of the iPhone X line. I would have preferred something closer in size and design to the gold standard iPhone 5, or the original SE, but I’m self-aware enough to understand that ship has long sailed.

  • It doesn’t have an absurd price… by Apple standards.

Those of us who’ve stuck with an iPhone 8 have a clear upgrade path now, if and when we finally decide to move on.


MDF disk images to ISOs

I’m restoring the first computer I built when I was in primary school, and have been trying to locate the exact OEM version of Windows 95 I licenced along with the parts from Make Fine Computer in Funan Centre. I call out the name of the shop as a nostalgic homage, as they’ve long since closed down. ♡

Winworld and the Internet Archive have been tremendous resources for finding these images, but one version I downloaded came extracted to an MDF. It’s an Alcohol 120% disk image that can’t be burned to a CD on my Mac or BSD boxes, so I wanted to convert it an ISO.

It’s easy enough with the surprisingly-named mdf2iso:

$ mdf2iso Win95_OSR25.mdf
    
==> mdf2iso v0.3.1 by Salvatore Santagati
==> Licensed under GPL v2 or later
==> Win95_OSR25.mdf is already ISO9660.

Sure enough, just appending the .iso extension worked.

Lesson learned: try mounting MDFs as if they’re ISOs first. If it isn’t, use Salvatore Santagati’s excellent utility. If only those awful bin and cue files were as easy.

It’s on FreeBSD ports, pkgsrc, and Homebrew.


csh feedback from @debdrup

Via Twitter, regarding my earlier post about ksh and csh in the BSDs:

@Rubenerd About your latest article on #NetBSD csh; tcsh (and csh) in #FreeBSD is quite a bit different: It’s really both tcsh (ie. same exact binary), it’s got a lot of fixes, coming from the canonical upstream github.com/tcsh-org/tcsh as indicated by psrc/contrib/tcsh/README.md


Pro-p’s K-On! fanart

Readers of my blog from way back know how much this series meant to me a decade ago, and he’s drawn them so well! Given the current scary climate out there, I might need to marathon the series again now.


Exercise during isolation

This was originally written on May Day, but for some reason I didn’t end up posting it. It’s been a month, and already so much has changed.

Photo late at night in Chatswood, showing an empty street and a green traffic light.

I’ve definitely felt a shift in my mood since I’ve been forcing myself to get more exercise again. I hadn’t realised how much walking and other activity a day takes, especially when compared to working from home metres away from your kitchen and bed.

Late in the evening feels like one of the better times. It’s easy to socially distance when you’re the only one around.


What’s missing from NAS reviews

It’s another of my blog posts where I ask you to read something and take a guess. Here’s a review of a drive enclosure from a well-known storage review site. Can you see anything missing?

The Netstor Mini Dual NA460C is a desktop direct attached storage device in a tiny compact form factor. The NA460C has a built-in hardware RAID processor and support four RAID modes including RAID1, RAID0, SPAN, and JBOD. The device provides a physical option for selecting the desired RAID mode on the back of the device, giving users the option for data protection through RAID1 or maximum storage through SPAN (16TB according to Netstor using two 8TB HDDs). The NA460C also uses USB-C interface.

That’s right, there aren’t spaces between the drive capacity and units. It should be 8 TB, or 8 TiB if they’re really referring to tebibytes. I made that mistake many times, and I’ll likely make it again.

Jokes aside, is a phrase with two words. There’s no mention anywhere in the review, including the opening description, about how loud the unit is. It seems like an odd omission, yet it’s the norm on most review sites.

I understand that data centre hardware will be noisy: it’s specifically optimised for a dust-free, temperature-controlled environment with engineers who (PARDON!?) wear ear plugs. But it’s reasonable to assume a mini NAS could just as easily end up sitting in an open-plan office or home as it would be in a sound-proof comms room or basement. Worse, the problem is compounded by proprietary connectors, interfaces, and controllers that hamper easily replacing fans with handsome, quiet Noctua units upon discovering you’ve bought an industrial-strength gas turbine for your desk.

Please include sound information, at idle and under load, when writing NAS reviews. It doesn’t need to be detailed decibel descriptions or other forms of delightful alliteration, just whether it’s LOUD or not. Our wallets, and our ears, will thank you :).


Race riots

Reading the news coming out of the US about the protests fills me with dismay, not only for the senseless death and repression, but for how helpless I feel to assist.

It’s tempting to think we’re isolated from this sort of thing over here, but our society’s treatment of our Aboriginal Australian sisters and brothers is equally reprehensible. As too is Singapore and Malaysia’s attitudes to their foreign workers, many of whom risk and lose their lives to send remittances home to their families.

Earlier this year Australia was on fire for months due to climate change people are too stubborn to accept, stingy to address, or lazy to act upon. The COVID situation demands respect and directions from medical staff, social distancing, and responsible testing, which some have openly defied. The deplorable actions being protested about by those American patriots are borne of the same selfishness, willful ignorance, and small-minded callousness that even the word racist can’t fully encompass.

The message we should take from 2020: treat everyone like human beings with needs, hopes, and potential. If you disagree, you’re part of the problem. Few things are as black and white.


Music Monday: Japanese aviation fuel train

This video by うえP (UEP) shows an US Army aviation fuel transport train that runs in from the Tsurumi Oil Storage Facility (Azumi Station on the Tsurumi Line) to the US Army Yokota Air Base (Haijima Station on the Ome Line).

Normally I don’t get video recommendations because I only access YouTube via a proxy, but it was immediately under the live video feed I may or may not be watching continuously.

Play 【米軍燃料輸送】米タンの入れ替えを安善駅で観察【JR貨物】

I’m tenuously counting this as a Music Monday, because the opening background tune is lovely.