Comic Scrape

So last night I decided I wanted to archive some web comics I used to read religiously in a format that I could later manipulate into an easy to read format so I can catch up on a few years of missed material without clicking Next a ton of times, thus was born cscrape!

It spits out the images and an accompanying XML file in the comics/ directory so that later I can write something else to process them into an easy to digest format to view say on a tablet or mobile phone for comfortable reading while kicked back in my recliner. Unfortunately for right now its fairly specific to a certain comic however I hope to be able make the code a bit more flexible in the future to allow working with any comic and perhaps roll in the functionality to process the scraped data into easy to read formats.

A horrible way to generate IP addresses

Sometimes I find myself doing the dumbest things ever, like needing a list of ip addresses for a tool that doesn’t accept CIDR notation for target addresses. The tool is unimportant other than it being poorly designed and inefficient as hell, what is important however is that I slapped together a set of 3 loops in a bash script to use the seq tool to generate a massive number of ip addresses. Its really slow actually, so slow that it generates like 250k every 5 seconds which really isnt that much for a simple task like this, I think my prime number code is quicker and its doing actual math. Anyway if someone happens to want this for some god-awful purpose have at it, its terrible and I should probably feel terrible for writing something this ugly

Youtube slow to start videos?

So I have noticed recently that in Chrome running uBlock Origin that videos on Youtube would take several seconds before they would start playing, just showing a black screen where normally there would be ads. This had been going on for several weeks and I would look off and on for anybody else running into the same thing and any fixed for it, and I was just about to give up and accept that it was just Google finally getting one up on the adblocking game then finally I struck paydirt on Reddit. In order to save anybody who happens to be reading this just add the two following filters by going to Options > My Filters

Once I added them and start clicking around I immediately noticed that there were no more delays before videos so hopefully this will prove useful to someone else out there

Thin is in again

Or at least it is when talking about laptops. Apparently according to the code on Facebook the Acer Swift 7 is all the rage because its so sleek and thin, but I cant help but wonder what possibly makes it any more desirable than my Asus UX305FA which is feature for feature a peer to the current generation Macbook but at a hefty discount by comparison. So far Acer themselves aren’t providing pricing however other places claim it will be 1000$ this fall, which would make it almost 200$ more expensive than the Asus. More than just the price I have in the past found the Acer support to be dodgy at best, at one point it was completely impossible to locate drivers on their website for an older system and that memory has stuck with me since and generally encouraged me to avoid their products where I can. It almost seems like these companies are making computers to be a fashion accessory now as opposed to a tool by sacrificing power, battery life and features just to create a smaller package which they can charge 2x the amount for compared to a more capable laptop which may not catch the eye.

A lot of fountain pen writing


Thought I would share a picture of my personal obsession, namely fountain pens. I started writing a little bit each day with a normal pen (Zebra F-701) and realized I really enjoyed it and somehow fell into fountain pens while browsing Reddit at work. Next thing I know I have somehow amassed several hundred dollars in pens, ink and associated paper supplies. Just today I added the blue notebook to the pile which usually is stored inside the wooden chest, but that doesn’t make for a very good photograph at all. Probably my favorite pen so far is my TWSBI Eco Clear with a 1.1mm stub nib which has allowed me to lay down 78 pages since the 17th of May this year in a larger notebook and has helped to improve my writing significantly by encouraging me to write slower and think about what I want to put on the page.

This love of manual writing has even started a project which I think will push me to write better both in content and style; I am planning out a family history covering things that I already struggle to remember clearly even at my relatively young age. Surprisingly the planning of what to write is much easier than the part where I have to chose the ink, pen and notebook to commit the information to since there are so many options which seem quality but don’t hold up under proper scrutiny.

Nginx permalinks and search fixed!

So I realized the other day I couldn’t have nice permalinks for some reason so I set out to try to figure out why and/or fix it as it had all worked fine before I migrated from Apache to Nginx a month or so ago.  Unfortunately it seems like there were plenty of sites talking about a fix of changing the location block around a bit, however I quickly realized that while the suggested fixes would indeed let me change to non-default permalink styles it invariably broke the ability to search the website which kind of inhibits me using it for storing thoughts and fixed and things and being able to recall them with a quick search.  Finally I stumbled across the golden bullet for this problem and I will provide it so that hopefully nobody else spends an hour and a half of their Sunday messing with this when there are QSOs to be made!

Original location block

and now the updated one


And with a quick restart of nginx (that took a few tries because I’m too used to systemctl over service already) and ta-da I can search again and have the fancy pants permalinks that mean search engines can better index my ramblings.  Oddly enough as I was testing this I saw a spider doing its thing while I was looking at the access logs for the server, pretty interesting that a spider would be active on a sunday at like 1145 EST.

Network Manager and OpenVPN

It blows my mind that Network Manager is still as bad as ever, I just finished up getting my new phone aimed at the home VPN when I remembered that the laptop lost all the old settings in my switch to Fedora so I figured I would give it a spin and see if somehow NM had been fixed.  A few minutes and some profanity later and it seems it STILL is unable to properly load up .ovpn profiles and parse out the various bits into the fields they need to go.  Even when I manually split up the keys and certs and all that it only worked halfway, I could connect to the VPN but was unable to browse the internet over it or even access resources local to the VPN server itself.  Fortunately the command line comes to the rescue again, all I had to do was tell openvpn itself where the config was and it did all the legwork that the abomination known as Network Manager failed to do.  For those who might care the proper way to invoke it is as follows

Now I just have to make a handy way to suppress the output, give me a status indicator and kill off the connection when I am done with it…

Successful Upgrade is Successful

I would say I can’t believe I’m typing this from a successful full upgrade from Fedora 23 to 24 but I’m not since I am at work and they frown upon me pecking away on my personal laptop, but I am still amazed that it was an absolutely painless process to upgrade from 23 to 24 with dnf.  In prior years it was almost always advisable to reinstall rather than attempt an upgrade from one major release to the next but the fine folks over at Fedora seem to have hit a home run on this one.  Sure it took a while to apply everything but the moment of truth (or reboot) came and passed and all I got was my normal login screen, no fancy explosions of failed video drivers, no corrupted profiles or missing files; it went so smooth I almost didn’t think it worked until I checked the redhat-release file and verified that it was in fact on the 24 release.

Crontab – Always Check your Environment Variables

So I have been running into this issue for like a month now where a script that I can run from the command line by hand executes fine, but when I try to run it via a crontab job it just goes absolutely pear shaped without any real explanation.  Finally I got some time at the beginning of a shift to sit with one of our senior guys to take a look at it as the script provides data the entire team uses and when it doesn’t run they get cranky.  It turns out that the environment my cron jobs run as is highly different, as indicated by the following which is obtained by adding adding a line to output env to a text file every time the crontab job ran.

Compare that against the results from env when run by hand

Notice the path statement is very sparse when cron outputs the environment variables, turns out that anemic path lacked access to fping which was integral to my script building out a list of live hosts within our lab environment. Once that was fixed the cron jobs hum along nicely and churn out an updated map of the lab every hour without me doing anything and now I know that crontabjobs run with fairly different environment variables than scripts manually ran and can cause all kinds of havoc if you don’t use full explicit path statements in your bash scripts that you plan to automate.

scripting: system-help

We have this handy script at work that pulls all kinds of useful details from a system and saves us a ton of time checking by hand, so I took a stab at making my own version for generic use. Its not very good at all but it kinda works and probably could be expanded upon to do something actually useful.

Repo on Github