scary rando stuff

You don’t see stuff like this everyday (I hope).

Rename and Iconv are like Chocolate and Peanut Butter

The features of iconv are probably built into Perl rename (aka prename), but when I tried the example from the man page, it kept generating an error message. I presume this is due to a missing Perl module. Here’s the error:

So I suppose if we don’t care much about speed then we can just use an external utility like iconv to help convert a whole bunch of crap file names to something a little more universally-digestible. Change to the directory with the unfriendly file names and then run this rename and iconv combo to bulk rename them:

I just renamed over two thousand files with this so I haven’t looked at all of them, but so far it looks like it’s done a great job.

rename 0.3 you can find here:, but I got it from homebrew.

Speed of the sort command

GNU sort is normally crazy fast at what it does. However, recently I was trying to sort & unique several huge files and it seemed to be taking way too long. I did a little googling, and realized that it takes a lot longer to sort the full range of Unicode characters because it has to decode one or more bytes (UTF-8) before deciding where a character should be placed. There’s an easy way to increase the speed of the sort command, given a few caveats.

I’m not sure how I haven’t run into this already, but I love whenever I run into one of these little gems. The solution is pretty simple:

The C locale simply uses byte-ordering, so non-ASCII characters may end up in the wrong place. If you don’t need strict lexicographical sort, just a consistent sort, this seems to be the way to go.

Moving Evernote notes into WordPress

proprietary insecurity

I’ve accumulated many notes (2000+) in Evernote over the years, and love that it can store binary attachments such as images or other media files. My favorite feature is the Evernote Web Clipper browser extension; it does a fantastic job at saving the parts of an article I want to save while keeping the styling intact.

Evernote has a free plan which I’ve enjoyed for a long time, but recently the financial status of the company has come into question, and they restricted syncing to only two devices. Also, the last thing I want to happen is another kind of Google Reader shutdown fiasco. I doubt that a shutdown would make my existing notes disappear, but it’s better to be prepared ahead of time. To that extent, I’ve been looking for a viable option to migrate my notes into another platform. Continue reading “Moving Evernote notes into WordPress”

Apache, Fastcgi, PHP 7 on Debian Wheezy & Ubuntu 14.04

Intro: The Tyranny of Prefork

There are a lot of tutorials out there that go through the rote instructions on upgrading your Debian or Ubuntu system to use PHP 7. While I’m sure most of them are fine, they assume you’d want to use the prefork process model or event/threaded via CGI (via proxy and fcgi modules). While prefork is certainly battle-tested, it uses a ton more memory than it needs to, so I’m going to document how to upgrade an existing Fastcgi install to PHP 7. Continue reading “Apache, Fastcgi, PHP 7 on Debian Wheezy & Ubuntu 14.04”

distribution: histograms in the terminal

My new favorite tool is a python program called distribution that can easily show histograms in your terminal:

I used homebrew to install it, but you can see some usage examples and a few other tools on this stackoverflow page. I eagerly anticipate showing off some histograms to people.

Debian server DNS bogosity

Note: I’m running my Raspberry Pi as a server, and NetworkManager is not installed.

I discovered that if you want to manually assign search and nameserver entries in your /etc/resolv.conf file, you can’t just add the relevant entries to static entry in /etc/network/interfaces:

For some unknown reason, the resolvconf utility will still attempt to query an upstream DHCP server to get additional name service data. I don’t know why it works this way, I believe it should be hands-off if you’ve specified static in your interfaces file. I finally found that dhcpcd was called to get the info, and added the following line to /etc/dhcpcd.conf to disable actions relating to eth0:

I suppose if I wanted additional interfaces to work properly using dhcp, I’d have to get rid of all this and configure each interface manually via NetworkManager or wicd.

Sometimes, you don’t have any inodes left

You notice something is wrong with your system. I’ll just put this error message here for the sake of the Googles:

That stinks.
Continue reading “Sometimes, you don’t have any inodes left”

GNU xargs is missing the -J option. WHY!?!

I find that using an idiom like

is so useful. It replaces the replstr (“%” in this example) with all the arguments at once, or as many as can fit without going over the system’s limit. I couldn’t believe it when I learned that the GNU version of xargs lacks this flag. Yes, it’s only on the BSD xargs as far as I can tell.

Every time I’ve searched, someone suggests using the -I flag on GNU xargs instead, but they are not quite the same. The -I flag substitutes the replstr one argument at a time, so that in the earlier example, instead of executing

only once, with the -I flag it will instead do

I’ve also tried using the -n and -L flags, but they are mutually exclusive with each other and with -I. OK, so we need some kind of klugey workaround.

This adds the “bar/” suffix to the standard input before adding it to the end of the mv command. “But,” you say, “those strings are supposed to be null-terminated!” True, but we’re providing a suffix rather than an extra replacement argument, so the EOF signaled from the input stream is really all we need.

There’s another, more intuitive way, but harder to get right; get the argument list output from a subshell command:

But this suffers from not handling weird file names the right way. Instead one could do:

This actually works better for file names, but lacks the flexibility of find.

Is this stuff really what we ought to do? Just give us the -J, GNU. If you know a different way to deal with this, tweet me @realgeek and I’ll update this post.

Unison dependency hell

UnisonI would really like to rid myself of Dropbox, but all the alternatives I’ve tried are too bloated, beta- or alpha-quality stage, too complicated to set up, or just plain don’t do what Dropbox does (minus the sharing stuff, which I don’t care about). I don’t want btsync, it’s closed-source. Seafile is too complicated, and makes dubious security claims. Owncloud is a cool project, but their file sync is slow, error prone, and has other limitations. There are some good services, but they don’t run on all the platforms I need, including Mac OSX, Linux x86 (32 and 64-bit), Linux ARMv6 (my Raspberry Pi B) and Android. I ran Syncthing for a while, but the continuous memory usage is pretty steep for the Pi, and I’ve experienced random silent file truncation in my shared directories with it. So I needed something else. Continue reading “Unison dependency hell”

Allow webapps to make outgoing requests

I was experiencing a pretty bad slowdown while trying to use the admin pages of a WordPress site recently. The load on the machine was quite low, so I began to suspect that it was trying to call out to external services (facebook, pinterest, etc) that might have been blocked by CSF (configserver firewall).

I started playing around with tcpdump and friends and then realized that the information I was looking for (blocked outgoing requests) was already being logged in /var/log/kern.log on our Ubuntu system (same on Debian). Continue reading “Allow webapps to make outgoing requests”