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Staying sane with Emacs (when facing drudge work)

I have to sift through 6 really boring config files. To stay sane, I call in Emacs for support.

My task looks like this:

img
(click for full size)

Unicode-Characters for TODO-States in Emacs Orgmode

By default Emacs Orgmode uses uppercase words for todo keywords. But having tens of entries marked with TODO and DONE in my file looked horribly cluttered to me. So I searched for alternatives. After a few months of experimentation, I decided on the following scheme.

Let us talk over Freenet, so I can speak freely again

I sent this email to many of my friends to regain confidential private communication. If you want to do the same, feel free to reuse the text-version (be sure to replace the noderef textblock with your own noderef from http://127.0.0.1:8888/friends/myref.txt). This text is also available in Freenet.

About 10% of my friends joined - which is enough to build the darknet and makes it possible for me to speak freely again.

First: The Essence of this text:

I’ve been censoring my emails for years. Not just what I write, but also whom and when.

Freenet allows me to write invisible messages to my friends. Those are messages I do not need to censor. They give me freedom. Surveillance can show that we could write, but not whether, when or what we actually write. If Freenet is used for that, it needs very little resources.

This is how to connect:

  1. Download and install Freenet from https://freenetproject.org,
  2. in the automatically opened setup wizard select “only friends”
  3. Copy the textblock1 you got with my email and paste it into the textfield on http://127.0.0.1:8888/addfriend/
  4. Then just send me what Freenet shows on the page http://127.0.0.1:8888/friends/myref.txt (attach it to an email or just copy it into the email)

As soon as I add you, too, we are connected. We can then write messages via the friends page (click my name):

  • Write message,: http://127.0.0.1:8888/friends/
  • Read messages: http://127.0.0.1:8888/alerts/

  1. Censored version of my textblock (you’ll get an uncensored version by email) identity=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    lastGoodVersion==XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    location==XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    myName=XXXXXXX
    opennet=XXXXX
    sigP256=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    version==XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    ark.number=XXXX
    ark.pubURI=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    auth.negTypes=XX
    ecdsa.P256.pub=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    physical.udp==XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    End 

Using Macros to avoid tedious tasks (screencast)

Because I am lazy,1 and that makes me fast.

Screencast

(download (ogg theora video))

Using Macros to avoid tedious tasks


  1. I have lots of stuff to do, so I cannot afford not being lazy ☺ 

Ambition the Film: This is where magic happens

I just watched the short film Ambition from ESA, and I still have tears in my eyes.

The film is awesome.

don’t change your habits - fix your tools!

→ In don't run 'strings' on untrusted files Michal Zalewski complained that running the strings-utility for computer forensics or other fields of information security could make you vulnerable yourself, so you should not use that. Given that strings is Free Software, I find a different conclusion from the vulnerability of tools used by professional forensics people.

I’d say if you’re actually using these tools to earn money, it is high time to go in and fix them.

I now have a spam-resistant, decentralized comment system via Freenet

Note (2017): Due to changes in cross-origin requests, babcom is currently broken. I want to fix it, but can’t do it right now. Sorry for that.

In the last years, spam became worse and worse. The more my site grew, the more time I had to spend deleting blatant advertisements. Even captchas did not help anymore: Either they were so hard that I myself needed 3 tries on average to get through, or I got hundreds of spam messages per day. A few years ago, I caved in and disabled comments. The alternative would have been to turn my Website into a mere PR-outlet of Facebook, twitter or one of the commenting platforms out there.

But this all changed now. I finally have decentralized, spam-resistant comments using babcom with Freenet as backend!

» babcom: decentralized, spam-resistant comments! «

Free Software

„Free, Reliable, Ethical and Efficient“
„Frei, Robust, Ethisch und Innovativ”
„Libre, Inagotable, Bravo, Racional y Encantado“

Articles connected to Free Software (mostly as defined by the GNU Project).

A bitcoin-marketplace using Freenet?

A few days ago, xor, the developer of the Web of Trust in Freenet got in contact with the brain behind the planned Web of Trust for Openbazaar, and toad, the former maintainer of Freenet questioned whether we would actually want a marketplace using Freenet.

I took a a few days to ponder the question, and I think a marketplace using Freenet would be a good idea - for Freenet as well as for society.

Freenet is likely the most secure way for implementing a digital market, which means it can work safely for small sums, but not for large ones - except if you can launder huge amounts of digital money. As such it is liberating for small people, but not for syndicates. For example a drug cartel needs to be able to turn lots of money into clean cash to pay henchmen abroads. Since you can watch bitcoin more easily than cash and an anonymous network makes it much harder to use scare-tactics against competing sellers, moving the marketplace from the street to the internet weakens syndicates and other organized crime by removing part of their options for creating a monopoly by force.

If a bitcoin marketplace with some privacy for small-scale users should become a bigger problem than the benefit it brings by weakening organized crime, any state or other big player can easily force the majority of users to reveal their identities by using the inherent tracability of bitcoin transactions.

Lots of site uploads into freenet

I just finished lots of new uploads of sites into freenet - with the new freesitemgr (which actually uploads quickly when WoT is disabled, check todays IRC-logs tomorrow to get background on that). You can get the new freesitemgr from github.com/ArneBab/lib-pyfreenet-staging or via infocalypse:

hg clone freenet://USK@kDVhRYKItV8UBLEiiEC8R9O8LdXYNOkPYmLct9oT9dM%2CdcEYugEmpW6lb9fe4UzrJ1PgyWfe0Qto2GCdEgg-OgE%2CAQACAAE/pyfreenet.R1/14 

The sites are also available via my freenet inproxy:

freenet-team - an introduction of most of the freenet hackers I know.

mathmltest - example of mathml in freenet.

winterface-deadlines - deadlines for the Winterface GSoC project

freenet-funding - the freenet fundraising plan, still lacking good design and crisp presentation slides or a video

freenet-meltdown - on the recent massive performance degradation which lasted a few month and ended with the link length fix.

fix-link-length - background on the link-length fix which made freenet actually do small world routing again instead of random routing (into which it had degraded, partially due to local requests, partially due to having so many peers per node that random routing actually worked for the current network size, so the pressure by routing-success to go back to small world routing was too weak compared to the pressure from local requests to randomize the connections)

download-web-site - how to download a single page from a website - for example to mirror it into freenet. Hint: For all the sites on draketo.de or 1w6.org you are allowed to do so freely (licensed under GPL).

guiledocs - the online documentation for GNU Guile with a focus on Scheme (using Guile): A powerful lisp-like language with multiple implementations.

decorrespondent-metadata - experiment how much information one can glean about your life from just one week of metadata, in dutch.

netzpolitiz-metadaten - same article translated to german. License: cc by-nc-sa

Adventures of a Pythonista in Schemeland - the adventures of a Pythonista in Schemeland: A deep understanding of Scheme for Python users. I learned to love Scheme with this. BSD license.

programming-languages - The Programming languages lecture. License: cc by-nc-sa

tao of programming - "When you have learned to snatch the error code from the trap frame, it will be time for you to leave."

Download one page from a website with all its prerequisites

Often I want to simply backup a single page from a website. Until now I always had half-working solutions, but today I found one solution using wget which works really well, and I decided to document it here. That way I won’t have to search it again, and you, dear readers, can benefit from it, too ☺

In short: This is the command:

wget --no-parent --timestamping --convert-links --page-requisites --no-directories --no-host-directories --span-hosts --adjust-extension --no-check-certificate -e robots=off -U 'Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.8.1.6) Gecko/20070802 SeaMonkey/1.1.4' [URL]

Optionally add --directory-prefix=[target-folder-name]

(see the meaning of the options and getting wget for some explanation)

USK and Date-Hints: Finding the newest version of a site in Freenet's immutable datastore

Freenet provides a global, anonymous datastore where you can upload sites which then work like normal websites. But different from websites, they have a version-number.

The reason for this is, that you can only upload to a given key once1. This data then gets stored in the network and is effectively immutable (much like immutable data structures in functional programming).


  1. If you try to upload to a given key twice, you can get collisions. In that case, it isn’t clear which data a client will retrieve - similar to race conditions in threaded programs. That’s why we do not write to the same key twice in practice (though there is a key-type which can be used for passwords or simple file-names. It is called KSK and was the first key-type freenet provided. That led to wars on overwriting files like gpl.txt - similar to the edit-wars we nowadays get on Wikipedia, but with real anonymity thrown in ☺). 

comment on scientific consensus: distorting a debate to hide the majority view

I just discussed with “sceptics” on twitter about climate change. There Ronan Connolly ‏(@RonanConnolly) showed me his article which tries to give the impression that there is no scientific consensus about climate change being man-made.

De-Orchestrating Freenet with the QUEEN program

So Poul-Henning Kamp thought this just a thought experiment …

In Fosdem2014 Poul-Henning Kamp talked about a hypothetical “Project ORCHESTRA” by the NSA with the goal of disrupting internet security: Information, Slides, Video (with some gems not in the slides).

One of the ideas he mentioned was the QUEEN program: Psy-Ops for Nerds.

I’ve been a contributor to the Freenet Project for several years. And in that time, I experienced quite a few of these hypothetical tactics first-hand.

“If you like what I do, why don’t you help me?”

Almost every free software developer made the experience that many people like his or her work, but very few actually provide help. If you experience this, don’t let it disheart you. Verbal support without practical help sounds inconsistent at first, but it actually is the result of limited time.

Most people who have the skills to help are already committed to other projects, so they cannot help you on yours. They can encourage you from the sidelines (“This is cool!

Huge datafiles in free culture projects under GPL

4 ways how large raw artwork files are treated in free culture projects to provide the editable source.1

In the discussion about license compatibility of the creativecommons sharealike license towards the GPL, Anthony asked how the source-requirement is solved for artwork which often has huge raw files. These are the 4 basic ways I described in my answer.


  1. The die was created by Trudy Wenzel (2013) and is licensed under GPLv3 or later. 

shell basics (bash)

These are the notes to a short tutorial I gave to my working group as part of our groundwork group meetings. Some parts here require GNU Bash.

1 Outline

1.1 Outline

  • user-output: echo
  • pipes: |, xargs, - (often stdin)
  • text-processing: cat/tac, sed, grep, cut, head/tail
  • variables (foo=1; echo ${foo})
  • subshell: $(command)
  • loops (for; do; done) (while; do; done)
  • conditionals (if; then; fi)
  • scripts: shebang
  • return values: $?
  • script-arguments: $1, $#, $@ and getopt
  • command chaining: ;, &, && and ||
  • functions and function-arguments
  • math: $((1+2))
  • help: man and info

The exhaustive guide to German Streets

This is no absolute truth.

complex number compiler and libc bugs (cexp+conj) on OSX and with the intel compiler (icc)

Today a bug in complex number handling surfaced in guile which only appeared on OSX.

This is a short note just to make sure that the bug is reported somewhere.

Test-code (written mostly by Mark Weaver who also analyzed the bug - I only ran the code on a few platforms I happened to have access to):

Org-mode with Parallel Babel

Update 2017: a block with sem -j ... seems to block in recent versions of Emacs until all subtasks are done. It would be great if someone could figure out why (though it likely is the right thing to do). To circumvent that, you can daemonize the job in sem, but that might have unwanted side-effects: sem "[job] &"

Babel in Org

Emacs Org-mode provides the wonderful babel-capability: Including code-blocks in any language directly in org-mode documents in plain text.

In default usage, running such code freezes my emacs until the code is finished, though.

Up to a few weeks ago, I solved this with a custom function, which spawns a new emacs as script runner for the specific code:

; Execute babel source blocks asynchronously by just opening a new emacs.
(defun bab/org-babel-execute-src-block-new-emacs ()
  "Execute the current source block in a separate emacs,
so we do not block the current emacs."
  (interactive)
  (let ((line (line-number-at-pos))
        (file (buffer-file-name)))
    (async-shell-command (concat 
                          "TERM=vt200 emacs -nw --find-file " 
                          file 
                          " --eval '(goto-line "
                          (number-to-string line) 
                          ")' --eval "
     "'(let ((org-confirm-babel-evaluate nil))(org-babel-execute-src-block t))' "
                          "--eval '(kill-emacs 0)'"))))

and its companion for exporting to beamer-latex presentation pdf:

; Export as pdf asynchronously by just opening a new emacs.
(defun bab/org-beamer-export-new-emacs ()
  "Export the current file in a separate emacs,
so we do not block the current emacs."
  (interactive)
  (let ((line (line-number-at-pos))
        (file (buffer-file-name)))
    (async-shell-command (concat 
                          "TERM=vt200 emacs -nw --find-file " 
                          file 
                          " --eval '(goto-line " 
                          (number-to-string line) 
                          ")' --eval "
     "'(let ((org-confirm-babel-evaluate nil))(org-beamer-export-to-pdf))' "
                          "--eval '(kill-emacs 0)'"))))

But for shell-scripts there’s a much simpler alternative:

Recursion wins!

I recently read the little schemer and that got me thinking about recursion and loops.

After starting my programming life with Python, I normally use for-loops to solve problems. But actually they are an inferior mechanism when compared to recursion, if the language provides proper syntactic support for that. Since that claim pretty much damns Python on a theoretical level (even though it is still a very good tool in practice and I still love it!), I want to share a simplified version of the code which made me realize this.

Tutorial: Writing scientific papers for ACPD using emacs org-mode

PDF-version (for printing)

orgmode-version (for editing)

Emacs Org mode is an excellent tool for reproducible research,1 but research is only relevant if people learn about it.2 To reach people with scientific work, you need to publish your results in a Journal, so I show here how to publish in ACPD with Emacs Org mode.3

The translation of NSA is Stasi

Just to give you a short note, if you have been surprised by the NSA acting like the Stasi in former DDR (German Democratic Republic).

Here’s the translation of NSA:

  • N: National = Staatlich
  • S: Security = Sicherheit
  • A: Agency = Ministerium

Let’s put that together:

NSA = Staatliches Sicherheitsministerium
(in more regular German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit)

Well, that’s long. Shorten it to Staatssicherheit. Still to long for casual discussions. So shorten it once more: Stasi.

NSA = Stasi

Do you still wonder why the NSA acts like the Stasi?

git vs. hg - offensive

In many discussions on DVCS over the years I have been fair, friendly and technical while receiving vitriol and misinformation and FUD. This strip visualizes the impression which stuck to my mind when speaking with casual git-users.

Update: I found a very calm discussion at a place where I did not expect it: reddit. I’m sorry to you, guys. Thank you for proving that a constructive discussion is possible from both sides! I hope that you are not among the ones offended by this strip.

To Hg-users: There are git users who really understand what they are doing and who stick to arguments and friendly competition. This comic arose from the many frustrating experiences with the many other git users. Please don’t let this strip trick you into going down to non-constructive arguments. Let’s stay friendly. I already feel slightly bad about this short move into competition-like visualization for a topic where I much prefer friendly, constructive discussions. But it sucks to see contributors stumble over git, so I think it was time for this.

»I also think that git isn’t the most beginner-friendly program. That’s why I’m using only its elementary features«

git vs. hg - offensive

To put the strip in words, let’s complete the quote:

»I also think that git isn’t the most beginner-friendly program.
That’s why I’m using only its elementary features«
<ArneBab> I hear that from many git-users…
»oh, maybe I should have another look at hg after all«

Why this?

Because there are far too many Git-Users who only dare using the most basic commands which makes git at best useless and at worst harmful.

This is not the fault of the users. It is the fault of the tool.

This strip is horrible!

If you are offended by this strip: You knew the title when you came here, right?

And if you are offended enough, that you want to make your own strip and set things right, go grab the source-file, fire up krita and go for it! This strip is free.1

Commentary

If you feel that this strip fits Mercurial and Git perfectly, keep in mind, that this is only one aspect of the situation, and that using Git is still much better than being forced to use centralized or proprietary version tracking (and people who survive the initial phase mostly unscarred can actually do the same with Git as they could with Mercurial).


  1. All the graphics in this strip are available under free licenses: creative-commons attribution or GPLv3 or later — you decide which of those you use. If it is cc attribution, call me Arne Babenhauserheide and link to this article. You’ll find all the sources as well as some preliminary works and SVGs in git-vs-hg-offensive.tar_.gz or git-vs-hg-offensive.zip (whichever you prefer)

    cc by GPLv3

Factual Errors in “Git vs Mercurial: Why Git?” -- and corrections shown by example

Update 2016: Instead of fixing the article, the Atlassian web workers removed the comments which point out the misinformation in the article. *sigh*

Summary:

In the Atlassian Blog, a Git proponent spread blatant misinformation which the Atlassian folks are leaving uncommented even though the falseness has been shown by multiple people and even in examples in the article itself.

The claims and corrections:

  • Claim: Git never loses unreferenced data. Mercurial needs special handling to retrieve unreferenced data. Reality: Due to automatic garbage collection, history editing in git unpredictably loses unreferenced history while Mercurial stores permanent backups which can be retrieved with core commands.
  • Claim: Only git branches are namespaced. Reality: Mercurial bookmarks are namespaced with bookmark@path, when there could be confusion. This is equivalent to git’s use of path/branch, but only used where it is needed, while git forces the user to always make that distinction.
  • Claim: Only git can provide a staging area. Reality: Activating mercurial queues (mq) and the record extension provides a staging area like the git index — for those who want it.
  • Claim: Git is more powerful. Reality: Both have the same raw power (as proven by transparent access with Mercurial to Git repos via hg-git), but
  • its “cuddly command line” gives Mercurial an efficiency during actual usage which most people do not find in Git.

2 years ago, Atlassian developer Charles O’Farrell published the article Git vs. Mercurial: Why Git? in which he claimed to show "the winning side of Git”. This article was part of the Dev Tools series at Atlassian and written as a reply to the article Why Mercurial?. It was spiced with so much misinformation about Mercurial (statements which were factually wrong) that the comments exploded right away. But the article was never corrected. Just now I was referred to the text again, and I decided to do what I should have done 2 years ago: Write an answer which debunks the myths.

“I also think that git isn’t the most beginner-friendly program. That’s why I’m only using its elementary features” — “I hear that from many git-users …” — part of the discussion which got me to write this article

Wicked Words! on Patreon

John Wick is entering the patreon arena with the Wicked Words! Magazine: Adventures, GM Advice, Little Games, Stories, The Works!

There’s an update with a Happy ending on 1w6.org/english/wicked-words-patreon!

  Yay!

This is really good news for online publishing, because it shows by example how roleplaying games and shortstories enter a new stage on the web: Fan-Funded periodicals.

Unicode char \u8:χ not set up for use with LaTeX: Solution (made easy with Emacs)

For years I regularly stumbled over LaTeX-Errors in the form of Unicode char \u8:χ not set up for use with LaTeX. I always took the chickens path and replaced the unicode characters with the tex-escapes in the file. That was easy, but it made my files needlessly unreadable. Today I decided to FIX the problem once and for all. And it worked. Easily.

Firstoff: The problem I’m facing is that my keyboard layout makes it effortless for me to input characters like ℂ Σ and χ. But LaTeX cannot cope with them out-of-the-box.

Fix Quod Libet empty panes on Gentoo GNU/Linux (bug solving process)

PDF-version (for printing)

orgmode-version (for editing)

For a few days now my Quod Libet has been broken, showing only empty space instead of information panes.

2013-12-11-quod-libet-broken.png

I investigated halfheartedly, but did not find the cause with quick googling. Today I decided to change that. I document my path here, because I did not yet write about how I actually tackle problems like these - and I think I would have profited from having a writeup like this when I started, instead of having to learn it by trial-and-error.

Update: Quodlibet 2.6.3 is now in the Gentoo portage tree - using my ebuild. The update works seamlessly. So to get your Quodlibet 2.5 running again, just call emerge =media-sound/quodlibet-2.6.3 =media-plugins/quodlibet-plugins-2.6.3. Happy Hacking!

Update: I got a second reply in the bug tracker which solved the plugins problem: I had user-plugins which require Quod Libet 3. Solution: mv ~/.quodlibet/plugins ~/.quodlibet/plugins.for-ql3. Quod Libet works completely again.

Solution for the impatient: Update to Quod Libet 2.5.1. In Gentoo that’s easy.

Inhalt abgleichen
Willkommen im Weltenwald!
((λ()'Dr.ArneBab))



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