Recent notes

Wed 2020-07-29 18:32

Watching the Congressional hearings [YouTube] investigating the monopoly power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google - this is frickin' hilarious. There is more tap dancing in this show than a Fred Astaire movie.

Mon 2020-07-27 01:48

Syncthing is one of those tools that I can count on 99% of the time. But every once in a while - man, it's a galactic pain in my ass. When it breaks, it breaks deep and awful. I just spent over 10 hours today getting three machines sharing a mere 15GB of files back into sync after I found that Syncthing had been churning disks in the NAS for days in some weird spinning of its own wheels - during which of course, nothing was actually syncing.

Resolving this failure (after trying the typical stuff to no avail) involved:

  1. Stopping sync on all nodes.
  2. Wiping the Syncthing db on each node.
  3. Re-indexing each node independently.
  4. Turning off "low priority" processing on each node (go on son, take all the cycles while you're at it).
  5. Allocating an additional 2GB of memory and two additional vCPUs to the "hub" node.
  6. Re-enabling each sync connection one at a time and waiting for sync to complete.

FFS. Not how I planned to spend my Sunday.

You know, I'd switch to another application for this function but the fact is that Syncthing (usually) tends to suck less than any of the other file synchronization tools I've tried. It's just that every now and then, it kind of screws me over for a day or so.

Fri 2020-06-26 15:54

Dangerously naive statement of the day:

Gopher is faster than the rest of the Internet, because opening Gopher pages doesn't entail downloading megabytes of Javascipt. And, no SSL handshaking occurs. The lack of SSL in gopherspace is not a problem, because no one is spying on you in gopherspace the way they are on the rest of the Internet. [emphasis mine]


No. Just... No.

This is a perfect example of how the rose-colored glasses of retro-tech fetishism can blind one to the realities and challenges of the modern age. Of course gopherspace is spied upon. All Internet traffic is spied upon. That is why HTTPS was invented. If you use the Gopher protocol to read Internet content then, due to the inherent limitations of the protocol, what you read is with certainty not private. It's all clear text, easily captured (and/or changed) by any device in the path between your computer and the Gopher server on which you are accessing the content.

I understand the appeal of having information available in the fast, accessible form of plain text. But in 2020, we can't just dismiss very real security and privacy concerns by saying "no problem, nobody's watching anyway." What I choose to read or view on the Internet should be nobody's business but my own. Further, I should be able to determine with certainty the source of the information I'm accessing, and that the information is being received in its original, unaltered form.

The problems with the modern Web are not inherent to the HTTP and HTTPS protocols. This website is served over HTTPS. It has no tracking code, no cookies, and uses very limited Javascript. This site remains usable even in a text-based web browser. Because I choose to code this site in such a manner. The problems with the modern Web are not technical, they are people problems that can be solved if web designers and programmers would only choose not to use the antisocial elements that make the modern Web so terrible.

There are projects like Gemini that seek to modernize Gopher. I applaud the authors for not dismissing the objective shortcomings of Gopher and instead actually trying to fix them. However, I do tend to think they are barking up the wrong tree. They are trying to solve the problems of feature abuse with a supply-side solution: restricting the available capabilities such that features which might possibly be abused are simply not available. Setting aside that this approach generally doesn't work (see: Prohibition, the War on Drugs, etc.), it also overlooks the history of why HTTP overtook Gopher in the first place - because it was the more flexible, extensible protocol.

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