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Ideas and links from SoCraTes Day Berlin 2017

I attended the SoCraTes Day Berlin and came back inspired and full of ideas I want to share with the world. Lean Coffee We discussed estimations (Complexity vs time, who needs them, when are they helping) and I learned about the method of “Magic estimation”. Someone mentioned “Scripts to rule them all”, an attempt to establish a common set of scripts in each project that do certain project tasks like bootstrapping, resetting, updating, running the CI validation, etc.

Four weeks of fish shell

At the SoCraTes conference I attended a demo of the fish shell and was so impressed that I pledged to use fish instead of zsh as my main shell for 4 weeks. This is the result of the experiment and contains my collected experiences. Fish is awesome I really like fish and will continue to use it. The syntax highlighting of the the commands gives immediate feedback (unknown commands are shown in red) and the command autosuggestions are a real time saver.

Impressions from SoCraTes 2017

I attended SoCraTes 2017 in Soltau. SoCraTes is an “Unconference”, where the participants set their own agenda and come up with topics for their sessions. Sessions can be presentations, workshops and open discussions. Here are the notes from some of the sessions I attended: Programming Exercise: Banishing State The example of this exercise was taken from a real-life project: A book indexing service that takes keyword/page number pairs as input and outputs either the page number, a range of page numbers or nothing, depending on previous inputs.

How to use your vagrant box SSH credentials

By default, many Vagrant boxes install a SSH key for the default user of a virtual machine image. This is fully transparent and you can log in to the machine with the vagrant ssh command. But what if you want to log in with the standard ssh command, connect with rsync or run an Ansible playbook? This article shows how to find and reuse the connection parameters for your Vagrant box.

How Secure Are Ansible Vaults?

Encrypting credentials like SSH keys or database passwords and putting the encrypted file in a semi-public Git repository is both convenient and scary. Convenient because every user of the repository only has to know only one password. Scary because you now rely on encryption and passwords instead of other security practices. So the question arose in my team “Assuming there are no implementation errors, how secure are Ansible Vaults?” Since the first 10 Google results did not answer this question quick enough, I decided to read the source code and answer the question myself.

Impressions from the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 in Vienna

I attended the Wikimedia Hackathon 2017 in Vienna. This is a summary and review of what I learned there while working on the prototype of the “Advanced Search Form” extension for MediaWiki. The first hurdle for working on the feature was setting up a MediaWiki environment. The recommended way is the Vagrant environment, but I’ve had bad experiences with that in the past and did not want do download tons of stuff over the conference WiFi.

Impressions from JSConf.eu 2017 - Day Two

Here are the bits and pieces I learned from the talks I attended at the second day of JSConf 2017 in Berlin: Applying NASA coding standards to JavaScript “Would you fly in a plane with an HTML and JavaScript instrument panel?” was the question Denis Radin asked at the beginning of the talk. While he is hopeful that improving the overall quality of JavaScript code may lead some day to the browser being the “universal GUI”, I remain skeptical for aviation, space exploration and other mission-critical systems that need real-time performance characteristics and high fault tolerance.

Impressions from JSConf.eu 2017 - Day One

Here are the bits and pieces I learned from the talks I attended at the first day of JSConf 2017 in Berlin: What’s new in Netscape Navigator 2.0 Marcin Szczepanski tried to build the TodoMVC app with the first JavaScript implementation that was available - in Netscape Navigator 2.0. There was no DOM to manipulate, you could only call document.write during the render call. What he came up with, was an application architecture based on HTML framesets with a “parent frame” that holds the application state and child frames that are re-loaded and thus re-rendered with the current state whenever an event occurs.

Creating users and their passwords with Ansible

This article will teach you how create user accounts with the configuration management software Ansible. You will learn how to create users with passwords, SSH-only users and users with temporary passwords that must be changed. Some background on passwords on Linux The file /etc/passwd hints at passwords, but stores only an “x” or other character where the password has been stored historically. The real passwords are stored in the file /etc/shadow, in a hashed format.

Running Spress in Docker

My last PHP update broke Spress, the static site generator I use for this blog. I decided to move my blog generation to a more stable and portable environment - a Docker container. I’ve documented what I did and what I learned with this blog post. This is my first attempt to do something with Docker, please excuse any bad practices. You can find the finished Dockerfile at https://github.com/gbirke/spress-docker.