Findlater Castle

Findlater Castle


Reading: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Difference Engine

Aberdeen, Scotland: 14°C, Mostly cloudy starting in the evening.

More bread

I did more bread, but at batch 8 this is no longer really interesting to anyone other than me.

People have been complaining that my tweets are marked as offensive material, which is really funny I only really tweet about bread and technology. I looked at my settings and the 'mark as offensive' option was enabled on my output.

I'm sure I accidentally enabled it, but the twitter documentation does say they will add it to accounts that have flagged posts.

I have no love for twitter, if literally anything else had the communities I want to pay attention to posting I would move away. Ideally something federated, but that is only a pipe dream.


Yes my phone autocompleted flour to four, you can't edit twitter posts and phones are the worst thing ever.

It is Sunday, so that makes seven days of writing.

Reading: The Moon is a Hard Mistress, The Difference Engine

Aberdeen, Scotland: 15°C, Clear throughout the day.

Notification Band Thing

Last night I converted by pebble from being a single contained unit, to a 3 part kit.

I am probably going to have to replace it.

Pebble the company is dead, I can still get replacement hardware from amazon or ebay and I suspect it will be generally available at reasonable prices for a year or two.

I used my pebble for 3 things

  1. It's a smart watch, so I used it as a watch for time and date
  2. I used it for weather, with the awesome relaxing watch face
  3. The vibrate function is amazing for notifications. My phone hasn't been off silent for since I got the pebble, notifications for calls and messages are awesome. Better I can forward notifications from a service bus app like pushover and generate them based on things I want.

I can just wear a watch to deal with 1, for 2 I am probably going to use the awesome forecast.io app and not rely on being able to casually check the temperature.

For 3 I am really at a loss what to do. I could just replace the pebble, but really I think I want a smart band with a vibration motor for notifications.

If what I want doesn't already exist, it is probably too niche to ever become a thing.


Reading: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Difference Engine

None, Scotland: 15°C, Partly cloudy until afternoon.

Build a FreeBSD VM Image Release

release(7) documents a set of shell scripts for creating FreeBSD release files in same manner as the release engineering team. The script creates a new chroot environment, checks out a fresh tree, doing the release builds in a clean environment.

That might be what you want.

I want to write some scripts that take in a specified network, some git commit ids and generates a set of virtual machine images running in bhyve to reproduce a test environment. Building in a clean environment isn't what I need.

The Makefiles in release expect to be run from a tree that already has a built kernel and world. They make building the VM images really easy, but apart from comments in the files aren't documented.

I am going to use a directory for all of the stuff:

freebsd/
    -> src        # freebsd src tree
    -> obj        # object directory
    -> destdir    # freebsd destination direcory

$ cd freebsd
$ git clone https://github.com/freebsd/freebsd.git src
$ cd src

Build the kernel and world, setting the object directory to the one in our tree.

$ env MAKEOBJDIRPREFIX=/home/user/freebsd/obj time make -j4 -DKERNFAST buildkernel
$ env MAKEOBJDIRPREFIX=/home/user/freebsd/obj make -j4 buildworld -DWITH_META_MODE=yes -DWITH_CCACHE_BUILD -DNO_CLEAN

Move to the release directory to build our VM images:

$ cd release

# env MAKEOBJDIRPREFIX=/home/user/freebsd/obj make vm-release -j4 DESTDIR=/home/user/freebsd/destdir WITH_VMIMAGES=yes VMFORMATS=raw NOPKG=yes NOPORTS=yes NOSRC=yes  
# env MAKEOBJDIRPREFIX=/home/user/freebsd/obj make vm-install -j4 DESTDIR=/home/user/freebsd/destdir WITH_VMIMAGES=yes VMFORMATS=raw NOPKG=yes NOPORTS=yes NOSRC=yes

I exclude, packages, ports and the src distribution in the images.

As a test launch a bhyve VM with our created disk image:

# sh /usr/share/examples/bhyve/vmrun.sh -c 4 -m 1024M -t tap0 -d ../../destdir/vmimages/FreeBSD-12.0-CURRENT-amd64.raw test

Reading: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Difference Engine

Aberdeen, Scotland: 11°C, Partly cloudy throughout the day.

Help make the internet better

Back in January I wrote about a small tool I had thrown together to do some internet measurements. Back then we decided not to take the next step and attempt to roll the tool out to a large audience.

We have decided we need the network edge data after all and I need your help.

First, you can get edgetrace from https://trace.erg.abdn.ac.uk

In short: We need measurements from as many network edges as possible. Places where people connect are almost always near the edges of the internet. Your home, office, the pub or a park with WiFi is probably near the edge. We need your help by running our tool from these sorts of places. The more the better.

In full: Packets on the internet are given a Best Effort service by default, everything is treated the same. The packets for your video call are treated the same way as a large download, but that means there is more latency when queues grow and packets in your file transfer are dropped when there is network pressure. With Quality of Service and Active Queue Management we can build networks that allow latency sensitive packets through the queue quicker while also stopping packets that shouldn't be dropped from being dropped.

The DSCP Bits in the IP header are used give different IP packets different Quality of Service classes. Right now, no one is really sure how these marks are treated; Are they removed? Changed in someone way? Or much worse, does the presence of these marks lead to packets being dropped?

To find this out we need to perform a survey, we can (and have) bought time on virtual machines in data centers, but that only measures things that are close to the network core. We also need to measure how these marks are treated at the edge, on connections that real people use.

There isn't anyway to easily perform these measurements without asking a whole lot of people for help. This is where you come in.

We need you to download and run our tool. If you can do it from home, the bus or the train that is excellent. Every run of the tool helps us build up more data about what is happening in the internet.

Thank you for helping make the internet better.


Reading: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Difference Engine

Aberdeen, Scotland: 5°C, Partly cloudy throughout the day.

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