By Ruben Schade in s/Singapore/Sydney/.

Mrs Robinson

Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes ♫

Wouldn’t that location needlessly–accelerate staleness?

Posted by Ruben Schade

Happy anniversary and tricks from lzop!

lzop by the imitable Markus F.X.J. Oberhumer is an infeasibly-fast file compressor. This post is a thank you for its existence, an anniversary update, and my discovery of default operation that all such tools should be doing.

I haven’t done a pointless introduction paragraph in ages. And the next section is equally pointless.

Mikuru Beam Dynapacks

Before we proceed, as has happened on every compression post for the last decade, we have Asahina Mikuru doing her Mikuru Beam. As I explained before:

For some reason, every time I discuss file archiving and compression, I’ve included images of Asahina Mikuru from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (© Kyoto Animation). Presumably because her moebeam can similarly compress files.

That original rzip post I also included a Dynapac CC232 photo by Lestat, presumably because they compress bitumen, which is a neat metaphor for a tar file. GET IT!? HA HAAAAAAAA! What?

Anyway, we’re in a Retina™ world now, so I’ve sourced the original image and uploaded a higher-resolution version for those of you using recent browsers that support srcset.

That may qualify as the longest digression I’ve ever had on this blog. Not a small feat, because mine are more medium-sized.

lzop’s anniversary

Moving on. lzop had its tenth anniversary last month, announced in typically understated fashion on the project’s homepage:

Happy 20th Anniversary Release! (Aug 2017)

Congrats to Markus for this huge achievement. We should pay omage to this by including in every *nix distribution. The fact its on my list of essential packages in Ansible because of its lack of default availabilty is a travesty.

A desirable default operation

And now, the thing I learned yesterday. As if we needed another reason to love lzop it, you don’t need to specify -k to keep the original file after compressing:

$ lzop -v file
==> compressing file into file.lzo
$ ls -1
==> file
==> file.lzo

From the lzop(1) man page:

-k, –keep Do not delete input files. This is the default.

This should the default for all tools like this. File deletions are destructive operations that should always be initiated by the user.

Posted by Ruben Schade

How to really add FreeBSD users to groups

I’ve seen sites listing this as the way to add a FreeBSD user to a group:

# echo "DON'T DO THIS"
# pw usermod [username] -G [groupname]

You almost certainly don’t want to do this. This command removes you from every group except the one you’ve listed. This has grave implications if you were a member of wheel before, because now you can’t elevate to root.

Instead, you want this:

# pw groupmod [groupname] -m [username]

Posted by Ruben Schade

iTunes 12.7

Apple icon for IPA mobile applications

macOS must have downloaded and installed the latest iTunes during the last software update. It’s the awful one where they removed the mobile app store, without replacing it with a standalone program or anything. #picardfacepalm.

Steve wouldn’t have done it!

The good news though, there’s a File Sharing section now, where you can upload files to specific apps on the phone. A semblance of sanity prevailed.

Out of interest, the first iTunes I ran was on Mac OS 9 back in the day, but iTunes 7 was the first to be reviewed here. Looking at those screenshots from a decade ago reminds me how far we’ve come, or haven’t come. Wow, that navigation looks so clean.

Now to wait for iOS 11.1.

Posted by Ruben Schade

But Steve Jobs wouldn’t have done it!

Steve Jobs wouldn’t have released an iPhone 8 and a X! He wouldn’t have approved of the notch, or the Pencil, or the charging port on the new mouse, or a gold Apple Watch!

He also wouldn’t have approved of the hockey puck mouse, or the G4 cube, or GUI pinstripes, or an impersonal doughnut-shaped office complex, or back-mounted ports on the iMac. Except, he did.

Steve Jobs wouldn’t have done it is the new this wasn’t designed well. It’s an inflated expectation he couldn’t even fulfil now.

There are legitimate criticisms, but how Steve would have hypothetically responded to a device is irrelevant. Whether you like it or not, Apple is a different company now. As it should and must be.

Posted by Ruben Schade

What’s new in the Debian installer

I missed a few of these nuggets when Debian 9 Stretch came out:

Support for the powerpc architecture has been removed.

This makes me sad :(. My first Mac was an iMac DV, but my iBook G3 is still probably my favourite computer I’ve ever had. It’s had Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Yellow Dog, Gentoo, the BSDs, but I guess no longer Debian – and Ubuntu by extension. I don’t blame them, but feels like the end of an era.

The installer and the installed systems use a new standard naming scheme for network interfaces. ens0 or enp1s1 (ethernet) or wlp3s0 (wlan) will replace the legacy eth0, eth1, etc.

I also don’t blame them, but good news its easy to rename back.

Since 64-bit PCs have become more common, the default architecture on multi-arch images is now amd64 instead of i386.

Solid idea, though glad i386 still exists for my Pentium MMX tower :).

Also, as the installer now gives an easy choice of desktop selection within tasksel, only Xfce CD#1 remains as a single-CD desktop system.

Good, Xfce is the still best *nix desktop environment.

Support for HTTPS has been added to the installer, enabling downloading of packages from HTTPS mirrors.

That’s cool, I don’t need to install apt-transport-https in my Ansible playbooks for repos like the tirelessly-maintained Sury. Actually now that I re-read, it says added to the installer, still not sure if it’s installed by default now.

Posted by Ruben Schade

Amagi Brilliant Park #03

In our continuing series reviewing Kyoto Animation shows that I missed when they first aired, we take another spoiler-riddled look at the next episode of Amagi Brilliant Park.

What - albeit predictable - relief, Kanie has taken on the gargantuan task that Sento spent obsessive time researching him for. So what would a Kanie regime look like? The episode explored three possibilities, with real-world results I was surprised to see given the otherwise fantastical elements of the series. Like, I dunno, mind-wiping bullets?!

The first, clean the damn park! The first two episodes dedicated much of their art and scene-setting to emphasise the parks’ dilapidated state, from unmaintained rides to general dirtiness. Sento reached into skirtspace and had a predictable answer for staff consternations, though already we’re seeing Kanie’s attitude as one of attracting flies with honey rather than vinegar.

Which leads to the second, entirely predictable solution from a teenage gentleman for park promotion, easily summarised in one screen capture. Kyoani tends to be more tasteful than some other production houses I could mention, but it didn’t stop them reaching for the inevitable “beach episode” early on, with the entire female cast. Clara was less than impressed, though not surprised!

What was encouraging was the utter failure of the plan, and the introspection to point out that booth babes and other such contrived attractions don’t translate to patronage. Moffle defending his honour upon the accusation of knockoff-ism – knockoff-ism? – scored more video hits than their mizugi advertisement, albeit without making much impact on patronage either.

With sex and violence ruled out, what will they need to do? Actually sell the park’s now-sparkling attractions? Absurd!

Which leaves two unpalatable but likely necessary solutions: take those ticket prices and wages, and slash them! It understandably led to some… acrimonious reactions. It does give some insight into tough choices those in charge often have to make, though I’d hope Kanie could attract more patrons first before resorting to such measures. Maybe the super cheap tickets could be the key? Right?

I’m sorry, but Sento’s deadpan expressions and voice are still my favourite.

Posted by Ruben Schade

Marriage equality

I sent in my postal survey answer on Australian marriage equality this morning, because it’s perfectly reasonable to “vote” on the rights of a minority! But the absurdity is just beginning.

How we’re “voting”

International media organisations have been saying Australians are voting on marriage equality. They can be forgiven for doing so, because the current situation is so muddy and silly, like a pet pig called Kevin Bacon.

It’s not a referendum, or even a plebiscite, because the current conservative government couldn’t get the numbers in the senate to allow them to ask it. Reasonable parties concluded any formal vote on the issue would result in vicious smear campaigns that would demonise people.

Imagine that, a civil debate on the rights of a minority descending into lies, moving of goal posts, and other bullshit? Good thing the public tone of the debate with this current system has been so civil. HAHAHA! Hahaha! Haha. Hah.

So instead, the government tasked the much maligned Australian Bureau of Statistics to send the weakest, most watered-down form of public participation imaginable: a non-binding postal survey. As you’d expect, there are already reports of people being sent multiple letters, finding letters in rubbish bins, or not receiving any at all. In other words, business as usual.

There’s also the cynical, but inescapable, idea that postal surveys were specifically chosen to advantage older voters, rather than – or in addition to – an electronic system that younger voters would be more likely to use. I don’t think that holds water, there’s no reason younger voters would be in any way more socially progressive.

UPDATE: The tone of the above may have been lost on a few of my readers here. I was implying that, yes, younger people tend to be more socially progressive. I’d hoped the bemused, exacerbated tone of this whole post would have communicated that. Never mind, nothing that a quick aside can’t address. Unlike the ABS or Australia Post, seemingly.

Why it’s a waste of time

When these “votes” are tallied, the government doesn’t need to act on the results. It’s the big ol’ suggestion box of Australia! No those aren’t garbage bags, we at Australia™ take your opinions seriously, and they’ll be raised at our next board meeting.

What will likely happen is anything less than 90% in favour will be advertised as an “unclear” preference from Australians (pardon, the “Australian People”), and they won’t do anything. The proverbial can will be pulled out of the latest NBN deployment and kicked down the road, resulting in no change.

The next politician who uses the phrase “Australian People” will be kicked by one. If you can give me some warning though so I can wear some steel-toed boots, that’d be great.

I’ve read some political strategists that claim this was the entire point of the survey. The government can be seen as doing something for rights, but they don’t have to actually implement anything they find distasteful. They get their discrimination cake and can eat it too! Though I wouldn’t do the latter, it’s probably poison.

The whims of social media

But that’s not all. Social media has predictably been volcanically erupting with bizarre criticisms of the survey that have nothing to do with the process or igneous rocks. Ignoramus rocks, perhaps.

  1. People are saying they’re sick of hearing about it. It’s a good thing they haven’t lived their whole lives with it, and just want closure with a proper vote. They’d likely have burst a few blood vessels by now.

  2. People feel victimised for voting no. Seemingly without any form of introspection or ability to detect irony, as they vote no to victimise a minority.

  3. People will be voting no as a protest against the above. That’s so many levels of absurd, I’m not going to insult yours or my intelligence dissecting.

There are aspects of Australia I love, but its current political climate is not one of them. The good news is, they’re erecting a pen around their meeting place so they can’t spread.

Posted by Ruben Schade

Video: Bit dusty next door

So that’s why our office balcony was covered in grit this morning!

Posted by Ruben Schade

No more plain text Zendesk

I missed this news from Zendesk owing to… an errant spam filer. There’s Morissetian-irony there somewhere.

The plain text editor is being removed from Zendesk Support. If you are currently using the Plain Text Editor in Zendesk Support, you need to enable the Rich Text or Markdown Editor before the removal date.

Their explanation for the feature removal:

Maintaining an older version of a feature or product when a new version is available limits our ability to ensure a valuable experience with the new functionality and takes time away from supporting the new functionality. All of our text editor investments/enhancements will be going into the Rich Text Editor, so this will be an overall much better experience for our customers.

And a subsequent clarification:

One of the mains reasons for removing Plain Text is that both Markdown and Rich Text are much richer experiences. Having the three options has led to a lot of confusion about what each editor option does.

I would have thought keeping a plain text editor would be less overhead than maintaining a markdown parser or rich text editor, but I can appreciate the support and maintenance overhead.

I’d argue though for something where email is the central feature, plain text should be an option. Technically proficient users communicate with plain text for many reasons, and aside from anything else, rich text – rendered from markdown or a rich text editor – isn’t a good image.

Posted by Ruben Schade